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June 28, 2000

Arnold Palmer


LES UNGER: Many people have used the phrase 'somebody doesn't need an introduction, and I certainly have that feeling about the gentleman to my right. But it's a pleasure to have Arnold Palmer with us. Perhaps you might just take an overview of the event that is about to unfold, if you could for us.

ARNOLD PALMER: Okay, Les. Well, you know, there isn't much to say. The golf course is perfect from what I can is see. The fairways, I don't think you could ever find better fairways. The greens are, at this point, look like they will be firm and fast. That is U.S. Open style and kind of expected, unless we get some rain or some unusual circumstance. As far as the field is concerned, you know, I think the Open at Pebble kind of gave us an indication as to what this field is going to be like. Four players from the SENIOR TOUR played pretty doggone well on a really tough golf course and made a pretty good showing for themselves and I think for the SENIOR TOUR. Bottomline, I think this Open is really gaining a lot of momentum, and I think that is going to be a very significant factor in the future. I guess that is about it.

LES UNGER: When you think back to the start of this Tour and what it is now, has it surpassed your fondest hopes, or how would you describe it?

ARNOLD PALMER: I think the fields were just as good then. I think the players that played in the opening of the Senior Open were just as significant then as they are now. But the fact that it has now hit the cities and the galleries and the fans in the various places where it is being played, is phenomenal. Yes, I am very pleased with what I see. I think the last year was unprecedented; I think this year is going to be equally unprecedented as far as the support, the fans, and local people are giving it, and that is very important. I think the more media attention it gets, the better it is going to be in the future.

Q. You talked about the field; and obviously, there is going to come a day where there is not an Arnold Palmer or a Jack Nicklaus in the field. Do you feel good about leaving the SENIOR TOUR in the hands of who is holding it now?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I certainly think that there is a lot of talent in the field. And whether there is a best of what we need and that personalities that will draw attention to the tournament and to the field is something that only time will tell. There is no question about the fact that we have a lot of talent out there playing. I suppose it is a question of whether they can get their point across to the public, and to the fact that they are good players and they are people that should be watched. And right now, I do not have a concern; but the future will, I guess, tell us about that.

Q. In 1981 you became the first male ever to win three different USGA Championships. That has since been done by Jack Nicklaus and two weeks ago by Tiger Woods. Did you get a chance to watch two weeks ago and see Tiger's performance?

ARNOLD PALMER: Was the last --

Q. Tiger won the Junior, Tiger won the Amateur, and he also won the Open. So did you get a chance to watch? And what did you think of Tiger?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, it was about the same as I thought before it started. I privately and just among friends in discussing over a Coca-Cola or a Pepsi-Cola, whatever, and discussing it, I -- you know, for libation down the road, I took Tiger and gave him the field. There was no question about the fact that he was so far ahead of everyone. It was amazing. But I thought that Jack might do better. I played with him, and he was hitting the ball pretty well; and for some reason, I really thought Greg Norman might be a factor in the Open. I wasn't aware of his hip problem. And then along with the other guys like Sutton and so on, I thought -- but when you watch Tiger Woods, our guys and all of them are going to have to take a grip and do the same regimentation that Tiger does. I think he has done, not just a great job playing, but his personality and whole thing has improved tremendously. And I think that he is going to be, as he continues on the road that he is on, I think it is just nothing but going to enhance the Tour and him and the business of golf. I think that is all a plus.

Q. I know last night was emotional for you when you were speaking to the volunteers. What does it mean to you to be the honorary chairman of this great tournament?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, of course, you know, Winnie came from this area. And we spent a lot of time here in our early days. And I played Saucon off and on in those days. And when they asked if we would be the honorary chairmen, the two of us, we discussed it and decided it would be pretty good. We had no idea what was going to happen would happen, and that was tough.

Q. Would you talk a little bit about your decision to join up with Callaway, please?

ARNOLD PALMER: It has been a long process. I have been in the golf business for 40 years with my own company, so to speak, and I have watched the labor and the pains of all -- some very good people work and really do a tremendous job trying to make a company succeed. At best, we never made a huge profit. And for the best part, we are just sort of riding on the edge of success and failure for a lot of years. Now, what were the pluses? There were some perks that made it kind of fun: Building the golf clubs, designing them, and playing with them was all fun. But it was never something that I felt real confident about the final outcome. So we got a gal come into the company, and Cindy Davis did a fantastic job. And Jack Lupton from Chattanooga came in monetarily, and we put the whole thing together. And I thought, well, maybe this is going to be a turnaround; we will make it. And after a couple of years, we just did the same thing. We just sort of rode the surface. What does that mean? It means simply that you need big, big capital. You need inventory. You need design. You need research. You need all the things that make good business what it is. And I talked to Ely a little bit about it when I was using a couple of their putters and a driver, and we kind of fringed on what might happen. And as time went on, and this is over, you know, a period of time where I wasn't sure that anything would happen, but it was fun; I went out to their factory and went through the factory and hit balls and saw the golf ball coming along, and kind of watched what was happening with that. And of course, then all of a sudden, some of my clothes advisors, my friends who are on my advisory board suggested that it might be a good idea to get a little more serious about their conversation. And I did. And Charlie Meecham who, you know, former LPGA Commissioner, has worked with us and worked for me. And he advised me to proceed. And Ross Meyer, another director, and Dick Ferris, another director, they said, along with Jack: Will you please continue -- and everyone -- we have been talking. And finally, all of a sudden, about two months ago, things started happening very fast, and here we are. I am very pleased. Callaway Company has been fantastic as far as their support of my program and what we are doing and as far as the equipment is concerned. I am very pleased with it. And I had been playing the ball prior to any contract or really any conversation of contract, and I liked it. That also had a big factor and was an influence on what eventually happened. So I am extremely pleased with the association, and I look forward to it. They have kind of taken the monkey off my back and given me the opportunity to do some things that I wasn't doing that I should have been doing before.

Q. Does your association with Callaway, does it make it a little easier as far as base goes, because you have so many interests? Does this free you up a little bit to play a little more golf?

ARNOLD PALMER: Exactly. And that is exactly what I was referring to when I said I have an opportunity to do some things that I wasn't able to do before. It is another board meeting that I am free of now. It is a lot of financial stress that I am free of now. And I have got golf clubs that are great. I am -- I really love them, enjoy playing with them. And the ball, I think, is going to be a ball that is going to be recognized very widely as time goes on. I have played it. I have played both the balls, the blue and the red, and I have enjoyed them. You know, I don't have to say that. I can go do whatever I want. I just enjoy the situation that I am in now.

Q. How about the design business? Is that something that you also spend more time with now, and also is it time for you to build the Arnold Palmer golf course? There is a Robert Trent Jones golf course -- Pete Dye, is it time for the Arnold Palmer golf course?

ARNOLD PALMER: It is. Answer that very quickly, it is. And I have been planning it for some time. But there are a lot of obstacles in the way of that. No. 1: Where? The kind of situation that I would like to do that golf course with, meaning financial as well as logistical, as well as the topography, the areas around the United States that I would like to do the golf course in. So there are a lot of things. As I say, I have been planning it for a number of years, thinking about just how I want to build it. And every once in a while in my design, I put a couple of holes that are in my mind for my golf course; and as you know, one of my policies is not to duplicate golf holes. It is to be individual with every golf hole I build, that my people build. Now, of course, you are going to see similarities as time goes on. But when I do this golf course that you are talking about, it will be my golf course, and it will be just what I think golf is all about and how it should be. You might disagree; you might agree. But I have never done that. I have done what my policy has been, to build golf courses that people can enjoy playing golf. And on a specific day, I can make them tough; but for the average player, they are very pleasurable from all aspects -- the beauty of them, the playability of them. That is my objective. Now, I won't use all those objectives in my own golf course.

Q. Just saw you hitting some balls on the range. You are still striking it pretty good. Anything you have done exercise, equipment-wise to change your swing --

ARNOLD PALMER: You know I have changed all my equipment.

Q. Right.

ARNOLD PALMER: Everything. Exercise, I am still doing much the same. I have been a little bit lax in my exercise program, although I still try to workout almost every day, but I have skipped a little time lately. Practice, I have done more in the last ten days, two weeks than I have in a long time. And I have enjoyed doing it. I have enjoyed working with the new clubs and the drivers and the shafts, and that is the one thing that when you are doing your own business -- like we were, and I talk about research and development, Callaway does -- gives me the opportunity to use every aspect of research and development in my game or on my game. That has been fantastic. I mean, with your own company, you are looking at dollars, and it is expensive. To do it and do it where it is a part of the overall makeup of the company is fun.

Q. Concentrate more on that instead of the financial part?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, when you are in the business, you'd better pay attention to the financial aspects of it. And I still do, and I am still very conscious of it. But it is a whole different program, because there is more available.

Q. Most of us in this room have had the opportunity either in person or through television to watch you play golf around the world and see the reaction of the fans and galleries to you and how you are loved in the golf community and in your home in Pennsylvania. What is it like playing a major championship at home?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, it is always -- it is great to be here. As you heard me earlier talk about the fact that I had been here; and of course, last night with the volunteers, a lot of the family were there. And tonight -- excuse me -- tonight my children, my grandchildren, the whole entourage is going to be here for dinner, and we are all looking forward to that. I am, and I think my kids are. I had my son-in-law on the bag and my grandson, helping him, which is fun. It is different. So I guess that says it.

Q. You talked about Jack Nicklaus a little earlier. How much have you played with him lately? How is his game, and can he win out here this week?

ARNOLD PALMER: I have played a little with Jack. We played off and on. I won't call it a lot. But I am just trying to think, recently before the Open I played with him, and I thought that he was hitting the ball further than I have seen him hit it in a lot of years. He looks stronger hitting the ball. He looked like his composure was better than mine just a minute ago, and -- but I have also seen him getting more emotional than I have ever seen him get, too; and that, I think, all of you know about at the Memorial and of course at 18 at Pebble Beach. That seems to be an ongoing thing with us playing our last Open. But I really, for some reason, I thought that he might be a factor. I definitely think that he will be a factor here if he ever gets here. (laughter).

LES UNGER: There was a wager that couldn't be made, I take it?

ARNOLD PALMER: I don't know. I just heard he was having trouble getting here. I am going to lend him my airplane so he can get here.

Q. Did you guys talk, you and Jack talk about playing in "last" Opens since you had already done it? Did he ask you about that?

ARNOLD PALMER: The conversation is very casual. I mean, Jack, when we played recently, he and Gary and I, we talked about it very -- I mean, very casually. And he said, "This may be my last Open." And of course, you know my lingo on that is: "You told me you were going to quit playing golf when you were 35 years old and you are still playing, so don't give me that stuff." But I gave up, and it was appropriate at the time I did, and I suppose that it is not too far from appropriate for him. That is up to him. That is still an individual decision, and only the person can make it his own decision in that regard.

Q. What are your playing expectations for this week with all that is going on around you?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, my expectations are that I would win the tournament. But realistically a lot of things would have to happen. Lightning may have to strike somewhere around here in order for it to happen. I have never played in a golf tournament that I didn't think somewhere down in my think pad that I might win. I still feel the same way about it. Of course, I get disappointed a lot. But when I really feel that there is absolutely no chance, then I will not appear. I felt that way about the Open Championship, and I feel that way about a lot of tournaments. And I don't play them anymore for that reason. There are a couple of sentimental trips that I make playing, like Augusta, maybe the Bob Hope or Bay Hill, something like that, but those are exceptions to my rule. But when there is just -- when I just feel that there is absolutely no shot, I won't be -- other than those few sentimental tournaments that I play.

Q. How is Arnold's Army different today than it was 35 years ago?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, that is amazing. Very supportive. I probably get more mail and more requests to do things today than I have in my life. And they are, as I say, extremely supportive. But with the cancer situation, as we know it and as it has been recently with myself, my wife, my daughter, and a lot of my friends, I get a tremendous amount of mail and requests about talking to people with cancer; talking to doctors; requests for doctors. You just can't imagine. And it is tough. That is a tough thing that is going on, and it is things -- it is something that I try to do as much as I can to help people. But on the other hand, where can you go? I mean, it has been home with me, and it is a tough situation. I push as hard as I can to get research and development to make people go for their checkups, which are things that we talk about it a lot and we hear people say they are going to do it, but they don't. And right now, the best cure that we have for cancer is a checkup. I mean, if you even think you might be sick, you should have that checkup and a PSA or a mammogram or what have you. And that kind of mail is overwhelming. Phone calls, you know. If a mother has a sick daughter, or if a sister has -- whatever, a niece that is sick, they think I can help them. Well, I can't help them if they don't do something about it. And even then, in my own experience, as you know, I did everything I could do -- everything. I went to every research center. I went to every hospital. I went to everywhere that you could go, and I made some progress, and I made some, I think, some progress for the future people who get sick. But you just can't cover all the corners. It is too deep. And every day I am hearing from doctors and research people, and I am hearing from sick people. And I did the same thing they are doing. I looked for a miracle. Sometimes you find it, and sometimes you don't. Thank you.

End of FastScripts….

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