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February 17, 2001

Arnold Palmer


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Mr. Palmer for joining us here today. Great round, and why don't you talk about your emotions and how much fun you had out there.

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed playing with Troy Aikman, who is a pretty potential golfer, he's only been playing a few years, and he looks like he can become a pretty good player. As far as my game is concerned, I played better today. I hit a lot of good shots and had more control over the golf ball than I've had in some time, and that was encouraging. I haven't been playing very well. I'm kind of getting down with my game and all the way it's been. Today was encouraging. I hit the ball pretty much as I wished, except for a couple holes. I made 6 on 16 where I had a weak tee shot, but other than that, it wasn't bad.

Q. You've shot your age on the Senior Tour. That's the first time I believe in 22 years anybody has done that on the regular tour, since Snead?

ARNOLD PALMER: I wondered why in the hell you wanted me in here. I couldn't figure it out. (Laughs). So it's the first time in 22 years somebody shot their age, well, that's interesting. I actually should have been -- as you know, you saw a couple holes -- and it should have been a lot better than 67, but it's fun. Golf is fun. That's why I'm still playing it. I enjoy the competition. I enjoy the feeling I get when I'm out there. You know, you get nervous, and want to play well. Of course, I'm not fortunate enough to do that as much as I would like. I don't give up, and I don't think that I will give up. As long as I can compete and be a part of the game, I'm going to try to be. If I'm making some contributions to it, that's my goal.

Q. I seem to remember, you shot your age on the Senior Tour a couple of times and that was a goal of yours on every birthday at some point?

ARNOLD PALMER: I did that. And a lot of times, I haven't been playing on my birthday. I think the last time I did it was 66 in Seattle, in the Senior Tour event. But it's kind of fun. You know, to do that, and I hope I can continue for a lot of years.

Q. Still, today, when you get a standing ovation from the gallery at 18 and all of the buzz that's created and all of the people still following you after this great career you have had, what does that give you?

ARNOLD PALMER: Of course, the major reason I'm here is because of the galleries and the support that they have given me over the years. And, of course, the Desert Classic, the Bob Hope Desert Classic and the people involved in that, have kind of held me down and keep wanting me to come and play, and sometimes I think that's not so good. But on the other hand, if I'm making a contribution to the tournament and enhancing it a little bit, I enjoy it very much, as I've said earlier. You know, if I keep shooting 81s, I'm not going to be here very much longer. But if I shoot 71, I might play a little bit more.

Q. At what point did you think about shooting your age, and when you made the double-bogey were you more determined to get it back?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, of course, I was very aware that I was going to be somewhere around my age when I came in, and I wanted to do it, obviously. When I made the double-bogey, I knew the last two holes, and I knew there was a pretty good chance I could make a birdie on one of them. I thought I hit the shot on 18 a little closer than I did. From where I was standing it looked like it was nestling right up against the hole. Obviously, it wasn't; it was about 15 feet short.

Q. Does a round like this, does it sincerely make you think about changing your schedule? Will you add tournaments?

ARNOLD PALMER: I'd have to play a lot more good rounds before I would change my schedule very much. But once you feel like you're making some progress, that could change my opinion and maybe have me play a few more events. But as I say, it's going to have to be more consistent than it has been. If I could -- you know, I started with 81, and then I shot 79, and then I shot 75, and then I shot 71. If I could have shot 71 and gone down the same way, I would be sure to play a few more events.

Q. You won here in 1973. A lot of things have happened. When you look at the Tour now, the state of the Tour, are you amazed at how good those guys are? Were they just as good 25 or 30 years ago?

ARNOLD PALMER: I played 25 or 30 years ago, and I think that there was, singly, there was as much talent, but not as overall great. The numbers are tremendous now. Guys that are capable of shooting the scores that they are shooting is amazing, yes. But you have to keep in mind, and of course, I hear this a lot about guys and how they play. Well, first of all, the numbers of players is tremendous. There's far more today than there's ever been, and there's going to be a lot more coming along that are going to be able to shoot. But you have to keep in mind, the golf courses. Goodness, this golf course, I mean, you could eat your lunch on anything out there. The fairways are perfect. The greens are perfect. Everything. There's not a bad situation out there. And the equipment. The equipment the guys are using today, when you think -- I'm 71 years old -- and I can remember some shots where I've played golf courses that I played 40 years ago, and in a lot of instances, I was driving it the same place I did 40 years ago. So you've got to think about that and what the equipment has done to keep us older guys up in the game. So you have a lot of factors. You have absolutely perfect conditions. You have golf balls that are, you know, they are faultless. They go straight all the time, even for somebody who hits them crooked. And the rest of the equipment is so improved that it's going to make the game more fun. It makes it more fun for me. I would not be playing if it were not for the equipment we are using today.

Q. Speaking of fun, I've got to touch on this ERC thing. You said you've supported it because you want to see amateurs have a good time and it sort of got completely taken out of context, out of proportion. Is that basically your feeling on that?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, my feeling, No. 1, is that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. The fact that the whole world is using the ERC2 is my point more than anything else. And the fact that it -- if you just research it. If you look -- I have researched it thoroughly and I know what it means and I know what is happening. My whole point is to have the Amateurs have a little more fun, be able to play and enjoy themselves a little bit more. But as much a point is that I want the rules to be the same for everyone. That means the R&A and the USGA. If I can get that accomplished and have everybody playing the same equipment, that's all I want to do. I think -- I don't think it's good for the game that we play under different rules than the R&A play under.

Q. I think Shane, is that your caddy?


Q. He mentioned that you burned the lip on a number of holes and felt you could have shot 65 yesterday?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, Shane is young. You have to take that into consideration. (Laughter.) We were kidding. I said, "The holes have cellophane over them all day," yesterday. But I missed a lot of putts. Could have had a good round, but I don't know whether it would have been 65.

Q. Did you play better today or yesterday?

ARNOLD PALMER: I played better today. I only really had one bad hole today, 16. If I make -- that should have been a birdie hole. If I make par there, I shoot 69 or maybe even 68.

Q. Have you shot your age every year since that 66 in Seattle?

ARNOLD PALMER: In a tournament, I'm not sure that I have, but I think I have, yes. I would not officially say I have, but I've shot my age, maybe not in a tournament. So I can officially say that.

Q. You talk about being upset with shooting 81 on Thursday in the first round, yet you walked around Bermuda Dunes and chatted with everybody, and you were very upbeat and happy. Is it hard for you to hide your disappointment in your game and still be nice to the gallery, or do you just -- how do you balance those two things, with your fans clamoring and you being upset with your round?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, when you are not hitting the ball well, which I wasn't, and I was having trouble concentrating and I was having trouble trying to find out why I wasn't hitting the ball well, I knew -- well, I knew why I wasn't hitting it well, but I didn't know what the hell to do to correct it. That was it. So, rather than aggravate myself with my game, I talked to all of my friends.

Q. At the age of 71, I'm sure you still have goals, but what are they? Are they simplistic or do you still think that you can win a senior event?

ARNOLD PALMER: You mean do I have a simple mind? (Laughter.) My goals are to continue to do what I've been doing all my life. I enjoy playing golf. I play golf when -- over at Tradition or Latrobe or Bay Hill or Laurel Valley, when I don't have anything else to do, and I enjoy doing that, and I play with my friends and have a lot of fun doing it. My goals are to continue to try to play good golf, and I get very encouraged from time to time. Today, a couple shots that I hit, you know, I thought, well, maybe I should not try them and I tried them and they worked. That's kind of fun. That's where I get my fun, doing things that I know are difficult, but when I pull them off, that's the fun for me. Thank you all very much. Nice to be with you again.

End of FastScripts....

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