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May 24, 2001

Arnold Palmer


JULIUS MASON: Arnold Palmer, ladies and gentlemen, shooting a 71, shooting his age in the first round of the 62nd Senior PGA Championship. Mr. Palmer, welcome to the media center interview room. Some opening thoughts on your round, then we'll go to Q and A.

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I guess, you know, I don't think that shooting 71 is that big a deal. I would like to have been a little lower and felt like I might at one point, but then the last few holes, I kind of got scrambling a little bit and made a lot of little 5-, 6-footers for pars. But good, I'm happy with 71. I just want to play better.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you. Questions, folks?

Q. After you hit your second shot on 17, did you just feel like you were trying to scramble to get par there?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, that was a bad second. I got a little quick, and I -- I've been working on something to kind of correct what just happened there. I was fast going away, moved off the ball and I was in serious trouble. And I was, actually. But I was able to get it up-and-down and make par.

Q. I understand it's the first round. But how about just the fact that you're in here right now, how does it feel to be on the leaderboard and be in contention even in the first round?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, it feels good. I'm, as I said, I'm pleased. I'm pleased because it's a good golf course. It's a tough golf course, and it's going to -- it will take its toll as the week goes on. You've got to hit the ball straight, and you've got to figure some shots into the greens. There's some holes out there that are actually blocked by trees, and like it or not, you have to figure your way around those trees and get the ball in there. So it will -- it was fun to do what I did today, but I figure I got -- I'd like to think I have three more rounds and I'm going to try to stay in contention.

Q. Is it more of a confidence builder to be making so many short putts for par, 5 or 6 feet? Or would you rather be in a position where you're two-putting and hitting it in the middle of the green every time?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I've never really shot for the middle of the green, so I don't know what you're talking about. (Laughter.) But I'd much rather be on the green putting for a birdie than making 5- or 6-footers for pars, yes. That's the answer to that question.

Q. How favorable was the pairing with Hale and John Jacobs?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I enjoy playing with Hale and John. I've played with both of them for a lot of years, and they're very easy to play with and enjoyable, if that's what you want to call it and they're both friends of mine.

Q. Two-part question. Did you see a round like this coming? And second part, talk about your schedule. You haven't played that much at all this year, and why have you played so little?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I couldn't have predicted that I was going to have a 71. I like the golf course. I've played here off and on over the years. It's a good golf course, and it's going the way we should have our golf courses set up for the Senior Tour, if you wish. It's going to take its toll. It's going to be a course that you're going to have to play some good golf to do any good on. I like that about it. As far as what I have played, I have not played very well, and I've been working on it a little bit, trying to figure out how I could get my game going a little bit better, and I felt a little bit -- oh, I won't say I felt better coming here, but I had a little more confidence in the fact that I was putting a little better. And right now, I need to go work on it a little bit more this afternoon and see if I can't hit the ball just a little better tomorrow. There are some parts of the game where it's fine. My driving has been good. It remains fairly consistent. But my iron play is, if you'll excuse the expression, from time to time stinks.

Q. You sort of touched on it, Hale mentioned that it looked like you were putting much better today than the last time he saw you play. I just wanted to know if you could talk about, you know, what you've done with your putting and how you think it's coming along specifically.

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I've made some changes in my putting. I shortened the putter a little bit and I've taken a little wider stance, and I've -- I found myself getting my elbows in pretty close to my side, almost rubbing against my side. And the result of that was breaking down a little more than I wanted to. So all of this I took account of and tried to correct it, and it has helped my putting.

Q. Is it more satisfying to shoot a round like this now than it was, say, 15, 20 years ago, or doesn't it make any difference?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, certainly more satisfying because 71, 15 or 20 years ago would not have been very satisfying.

Q. Two questions, if I could, Arnold. No. 1, you mentioned you played Ridgewood recently or since the Senior Open, I guess, in '90, no? Had you?

ARNOLD PALMER: No, I played it a lot before that. I used to do some outings here in years gone by, and I've played it a number of times.

Q. And I was asking Hale this. I understand you are playing in the senior British Open this year, right?

ARNOLD PALMER: I am going. I have plans to go to the Senior British Open. And I didn't know it wasn't a Major; I thought it was. Somebody said it wasn't a Major? Who said that?

Q. I don't think it's considered a Major. What do you consider it?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I consider it a Major. Whether anybody else does, I don't really care. (Laughter.) But I think the British Open is a Major. Is the U.S. Senior Open a Major? Is this a Major? The British Open is a Major also. Call it what you want.

Q. When you teed up on the first hole on the first day, do you say to yourself, "I can win this thing. Let's go out and win this thing"? And do you still have the nerves you had 40, 50 years ago?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I don't know that I have what you're talking about at 40 or 50. Jesus Christ, I'm getting old. (Laughter.) I sort of gave myself a little kick today on that very subject. I think that lately, number one, not playing has taken a little of the edge off my game and my attitude. As I said, I sort of gave myself a little kick today and said, "If you're going to play, either play and work on it and work out there and get positive, not so negative. And if you're not, just quit." And I've come close to doing that. If it doesn't get better, I will quit. But right now I'm a little fired up, obviously, and I want to go work on it and see if I can't put something together to have a good tournament here and give myself a chance to win. Whether I can or not is yet to be seen, but at least get in there where there's some adrenaline flowing.

Q. Was today's round more satisfying than the round at the Bob Hope earlier this year?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, at the Hope, it was a round. That was really all it was. It was a round in a tournament, and I always try to play as well as I can. But today is the opening round of a Major for the seniors, and it's much more important. And certainly if something that I can do follows, I would like that, too.

Q. My question is kind of similar to Steve's. Over the course of your career, was there a switch in you where when you were in the hunt, when you could sniff something, that kind of an adrenaline went off? And did you feel that at all today? Hale said it was like shades of the old Arnold Palmer.

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, you know, I felt a little more like getting after it today, and not giving it that sort of, "Oh, well, what the hell," which has happened a little lately. I suppose that you can expect that at this point. But I never played -- I don't think I can play pretty good. But as I said, every once in a while I'll hit a bad shot or I'll have a hole that's bad, and I'll say, "Maybe it's time." And just that is enough to make me not want to play anymore. So I decided today that I wasn't going to have that attitude at all. If I missed a shot, I was going to work on the next one harder. And that's what I used to do. And I did today. I just kept working on the ball, trying to focus on what I was doing.

Q. When you were talking about Ridgewood, saying -- being an old-time golf course, you said you'd like the Senior Tour to have more this way. What is it about the course that attracts you? What characteristics would you like to see in the Senior Tour to make changes like this?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I think the major thing I'm talking about, and you can take Ridgewood out of the scenario if you want to, that we are not playing the golf courses difficult enough. And they did, they've got this golf course where it's playing pretty long and it's playing good. It's tough. Now the fact that it drives -- it's damp has done two things. One, it's played a little longer, but it's also made it play a little easier because the ball isn't taking those bad bounces. But it is a good golf course, and it's a tough golf course. It's very narrow, and you can't just whale it away, you've got to think about where you're going to hit every shot, which I like.

Q. This may be a tough question, but with all you've done in golf, all you've achieved, do you ever look back at the old films and say to yourself, "I wish I could still do that"? Or are you just happy at this stage to be above the divot and enjoy life?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I'm happy I'm above the divot. That's one. (Laughter.) Two, sometimes lately I've looked at what was going on and I didn't like what I saw, with me. And I decided that if, you know, if I'm going to come out and play, I need to give it every effort that I have. As I said, sometimes I say, "Oh, well, what the hell." Just that sentence alone is not good. It's not good for my attitude. It's not good for my score. And I'll shoot some bad scores; I have before and I'd like to think that I will again. But I might shoot some better scores, and that's what I'm working to do.

Q. Could you describe the feeling walking up the 18th? Was it a lot different for you, and describe the satisfaction walking up the 18th.

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, of course, I, number one, was trying to get in with something under par. Certainly 1 under par, I accept. But if it were 2 or 3 or if I would have made the putt at the last hole, I would have been a lot happier, and that's what I was thinking about.

Q. Did you know you had to two-putt at 18 to shoot your age? Or were you just thinking, "Make this putt"?

ARNOLD PALMER: Everybody in the gallery was talking about, "Come on, Arnie, you got to shoot your age!" Hell, they started that two days ago.

Q. Off the top of your head, what's the best in relation to your age that you've ever shot?

ARNOLD PALMER: What's the best what?

Q. In relation to your age. What's the most under your age you've ever done?

ARNOLD PALMER: Oh, a couple years ago I shot 4 or 5 strokes under my age. But that's not -- that's just in fun. That's playing with friends, and one day not too long ago, a couple years ago, I shot 28 on the front nine at Latrobe. So that's -- there was a time, though, when I was in my middle 60s that I shot a couple pretty low scores on nine holes and started thinking about shooting 64 or 65, and shot 40 on the back nine. So there's something to it, I suppose. And a lot of it -- I guess everybody makes more out of it, but I hear a lot of people talking about shooting their age. I'm getting letters all the time from people telling me that they're shooting their age, some of them 95, some of them 90. I hope I make it, and I hope I shoot my age when I get there.

JULIUS MASON: Can you go through your card, birdies and bogeys?

ARNOLD PALMER: I birdied the first hole. I bogeyed the second.

JULIUS MASON: You want clubs, I'm guessing?

Q. Yeah.

JULIUS MASON: The club and the length of the putt.

ARNOLD PALMER: Okay. I birdied the first. I hit a 9-iron about 3, 4 feet from the hole. Second hole I drive 3-wood, and a wedge, and I pulled it to the left of the green and I pitched it up and missed about an 8-foot putt for par. The next birdie was at par 5, 4th hole, where I drive a 3-wood and a sand iron about 3 feet. I made that. The next hole I put it in the trap, blasted out and missed about a 10-foot par putt. The next hole was a -- the 8th where I hit the cup off the tee, rimed the cup with a 3-iron, and made about a 4-foot putt for birdie. Then, oh, I bogeyed the 12th. I hit a 4-iron right front short. Pitched it poorly and 2-putted from about 20 feet. The next hole I hit a drive and a 3-wood and a sand iron about 4 feet -- 3 feet from the hole and made a birdie. And then I parred in. Okay.


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