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July 26, 2005

Arnold Palmer


RAND JERRIS: It is an honor and a privilege to welcome Arnold Palmer to the interview center this afternoon. Mr. Palmer is the 1960 United States Open Champion, the 1954 United States Amateur champion and in 1981 won the second United States Senior Open. He's now playing in his 25th consecutive United States Senior Open this week.

Maybe you could start us out with some comments on how this championship has changed in the 25 years since you first started playing.

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, it certainly has changed. I think it's just wonderful that it has worked out as well as it has with everything involved. The players, the tournament itself from a prestige standpoint, the golf course standpoint that they play now, I think it's really what everyone intended the Senior Open Championship to be like, and of course this week is very typical of that. It looks like the crowds are good, the golf course is excellent. I just was out and played a few holes, and other than a little bit of heat, just a little (laughter), it's wonderful. The golf course is in excellent condition, and I think this is what the United States Golf Association was looking for when they started the Senior Championship, and I think they'll get all that they bargained for this week.

RAND JERRIS: As a three time USGA champion, what does it mean to you when you come to a USGA event?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, of course I probably have no more business being here this week than the man in the moon up there, but 25, I figured this would be a nice opportunity for me to make 25 Senior Championships. Lord knows when I started I didn't think I'd live this long (laughter). So it is a real pleasure to be here and to be playing.

I think that just the privilege of playing, and if I can gather something up and play a little bit better than I've been playing, that would be nice, too. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. On the Senior Tour now there's a lot of nicknames, The Bear, The Shark, the Walrus, The King. If you could pick your own nickname for the Tour, for yourself, what would you choose and why (laughter)?

ARNOLD PALMER: I've had some great questions in my day, but that one sort of lassos me. I have no idea what as you know, I've been through a lot of names, a lot of which I can't even mention here (laughter).

Q. How about The Ambassador perhaps?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, if that suits, that's very nice. I just hope that, as I have said continually when I am asked questions like that, if I leave it better than I found it 25 years ago or 50 years ago, I'll be happy for that.

Q. Mr. Palmer, you have definitely left golf at the moment better than it ever was. You brought it into the forefront, as a personal observation from a man who loves the game. You are responsible for golf, in my opinion, being what it is today. How do you feel about having and I'm not the only one to say that, it's said about you all the time. How do you feel about people saying that?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, it's fine if they say it, if it's true, and certainly I hope that the game is headed in the direction that I think it is, and of course I'm very happy for that. To see what has transpired in the 25 years of this event makes me feel pretty good, to know that I have been playing in it for those 25 years, and that when I stop playing, it won't have really any effect at all. It will continue to go on and grow as it has.

RAND JERRIS: Arnold, in 1969 at the PGA, I believe you played one round and then withdrew with an injury. Do you have recollections of that week, of the golf course?

ARNOLD PALMER: Very little. I wasn't here long enough to get to know the golf course. Actually I had a little bit of a back problem prior to coming here, but I thought that maybe I had been doing some treatment and exercising, and I had hoped that maybe I had overcome the problem, but I believe it was the 6th hole. As a matter of fact, my caddie from that event was here. I just spoke to him a little bit ago, and we talked about it, and I think it was on the 6th hole that I got a cramp in my back and my right side, and I couldn't swing the club and I had to walk in.

As I say, I wasn't here long enough to really get acquainted with the golf course.

Q. What would be a good round of golf for you on this course over the next two or three or four days, for you personally?

ARNOLD PALMER: What will be?

Q. What kind of round of golf would you want to shoot out there?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I have answered a number of questions about what I want, and since I'm going to say what I want, I'd probably settle for a couple of 68s the first two rounds and then cap that off with a couple of 69s the second two rounds, and if I don't win I'll be happy (laughter).

Q. Now, being realistic

ARNOLD PALMER: Realistic now? I'll help you. Do you want me to write that story for you (laughter)?

If I can shoot around par, I would be pretty happy. I haven't been doing that too much. Maybe at Latrobe I can still muster a few rounds at par or 1 under or something like that, but to continue to do it day in and day out is difficult.

RAND JERRIS: Arnold, your grandson was the medalist in the Junior Amateur last week in Massachusetts, and I'm wondering if you had any advice for him before he went out to play and if he had any advice for you when you came here this week.

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I certainly was very proud of Sam and what he did at the Junior, the two rounds that he played to lead the qualifying was pretty spectacular. I think that he will probably think about what he says after he shoots the leading score in the qualifying the next time he goes into match play and let it fall where it may. But he's a wonderful young man. I think his potential is very, very good.

But he's still in the learning curve of his life, and that will come, I think, and of course I expect to see him do great things in the future. He's going to be trying to qualify for the Amateur, what is it, next week? Next week is the qualifying, so he'll be working on that, and he is very capable and he'll do very well, but I think I'd just like to see him do it.

Q. You'll be attending a dinner in honor of your friend Jack Nicklaus tonight. Could you speak just a little bit on your relationship with Jack and what it's meant to you.

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, of course we've had a great relationship for many, many years. I can remember starting with an exhibition which was here in Athens, Ohio, which was the first time I met Jack, and we have been pretty close friends ever since. Of course that friendship grew over the first few years, and what he has accomplished in the game of golf is certainly pretty fantastic in itself. Part of the reason I'm here is to be here for that dinner tonight and to help honor Jack.

He's done a wonderful job, and of course I think that Barb should get a little bit of the credit for all of what Jack has done because she's been a great contributor to his life and to his career.

Q. You also had an exhibition with Jack in 1962 in Hutchinson at Prairie Dunes Country Club. Next year the Open is going to be at Prairie Dunes. Will you consider going there? I know there's a lot of people in Kansas that would love to have you there. When would you decide on that kind of schedule?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, it's very doubtful that I will be there. At this point in time I haven't even put it on the schedule, so I really can't answer your question. It's doubtful that I will play. This probably, without too much ado, will be my last Open, and I don't ever say things like that, meaning I'm not announcing anything. I'm just saying it probably will be the last one I'll play in.

Who knows, I may find the fountain of youth out there somewhere (laughter).

Q. I read an article once that was called "100 things that every golfer must do before they die," and one of those had your picture on the cover, and it says shake hands with Arnold Palmer, and I was just wondering if after this interview you could drop my list to 99.


RAND JERRIS: Okay, everybody got what they want? Thank you, I hope you all play well this week (laughter).

End of FastScripts.

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