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April 5, 2007

Arnold Palmer


ROB JOHNSTON: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being here. In the annals of the great legacies and tradition of this tournament, let it be recorded today, Thursday, April 5th, 2007, a magnificent new tradition has begun. The king has returned and reclaimed his place at the first tee. It is my great honor and personal pleasure to introduce four-time green jacket winner, Mr. Arnold Palmer. Congratulations.
ROB JOHNSTON: We can begin with a comment if you like, sir.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I really don't have a comment except that it's a great thrill for me, and of course, an honor.
I was thinking back to when I used to -- when I went to Wake Forest and I used to watch the Masters and think about coming here, and whoever thought that 60 years later, here we are.

Q. How does this differ from your ordinary day, say an ordinary weekday; up earlier?
ARNOLD PALMER: Oh, no. I got up the same time this morning that I get up every morning. You want all the details? (Laughter).

Q. All the details. (Laughter).
ARNOLD PALMER: I don't think you do, really. But I get up 5:30, 6:00 every morning and first thing I do is put the coffee on and take my dog for a nice walk. That's usually my normal morning.
So this morning really wasn't anything getting-up-wise any different from usual, except my dog isn't here and I didn't walk him.
There was some excitement in the air. I did something last night that I haven't done in a long time. I went to bed at, what, about 10:00, 10:30, and I slept until 5:00 this morning without moving, and I don't ever do that. I'm always up at least once during the night.
I got up and got shaved and dressed and ready to do the thing. And there was obviously some excitement in it. Seeing what happened when they opened the gates was also quite a thrill, to see those people come in. And of course that's what it's been about for me for a long time.

Q. We can tell just from your comments today and yesterday, the day before, how much this course means to you and how much you love it. We can tell by the way you talk about it. Can you talk about a bit of the emotion today coming here having this honor and being saluted by so many of your fans who have loved you for so many years?
ARNOLD PALMER: The emotion and feeling about being here and doing this, I waited to do this and think about it for a couple of years. And I felt like this was an appropriate time. I didn't want to get up and die before I did it; getting to my age at some point, you've got to think about that.
But certainly there's a lot of emotion and a lot of feeling for Augusta. You know, I have -- well, what I'm thinking about is the years I first came here in 1955 and shortly after that, I got to know Cliff Roberts and Bob Jones, and for me and all of the things that that ranked in my life; my father, being in golf; that, and then in '58 it really started happening when I won; and Dwight Eisenhower was President of the United States and Cliff Roberts came out and said that the President wanted to play golf Monday morning. Well, you know.
So, that kind of kicked things off. That got the whole thing going. And through the President and Cliff, we struck up a friendship and that friendship lasted for a lot of years and that was kind of the beginning.
And in the last, I guess, 24 hours, a lot of those things came to my mind. I just was reminiscing and thinking about how much Augusta has meant in my life, right up to today.

Q. Do you find yourself reminiscing now more as you kind of start a new tradition than you did three years ago when you ended another tradition?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, yeah, there was probably some feelings about some of the things. They weren't all fantastic feelings. I suppose that I had a little objection to the fact that some of traditions of Augusta were taken away. Like I think of the exempt status, when everybody was exempt. And I suppose I objected to some of the things -- that they didn't want us to play, and you know, that was -- it may have been good. It may have been a real legitimate reason. But I was shook a little by that.
The first round of golf I played here in the tournament was with Gene Sarazen. He wouldn't have been here if that rule had been in effect then, and a couple of things like that.
But overall, the things that took me back, most of them were very pleasant, but I can't say there isn't a time when some of those things aren't as pleasant. But it's gone and I've thought about that, too, a lot.
I am first very pleased to be a member of this club and to have the opportunities that the Masters has presented for me.
I suppose that I wish every young player and every person who eventually plays here understands what it means and how I feel about it, and I suppose the effect that it has had in my life.

Q. For those of us who were stuck behind tall or younger media guys here, can you describe the first drive today?

Q. Today. Shot by shot. (Laughter).
ARNOLD PALMER: You weren't here early?

Q. No. I said I was behind too many tall guys.
ARNOLD PALMER: I understand. On the practice tee this morning, I was hitting it over the fence out there. (Laughter).
Actually, I didn't want to top it. I hit it pretty good. I've always said that if I would hit the shot and it went left, it was okay. If it went right, I was in trouble.
So that little draw I hit off the first tee kept me out of that sand trap up on the right side. (Laughter).
ROB JOHNSTON: Well, Mr. Palmer, coming in this morning, there were about 10,000 people at the gate, at least, waiting to get in. And as long as I've been coming here, in almost 50 years, I have never experienced the love and excitement, the apprehension, the anxiety of seeing you here return as a ceremony starter. It is an honor and thrill to have you back with us.
ARNOLD PALMER: Thank you. I can only say that when I've commented about the young people that are into golf and those that are not into golf, if they had an opportunity to do -- to do and to see what has happened in my life.
ROB JOHNSTON: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Arnold Palmer.

End of FastScripts
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