But Arnie remembers the way it was back in the late 50s and early 60s. He remembers a man who used to have a better mind than everyone, was stronger than everyone, used to beat everyone. That was the first half of his life. And he has spent the second half of his life hoping against all hope that it would happen again.
I'm almost to the point where, yeah, I'm here because somewhere in the back of my head I'm still stupid enough to think that I can win a golf tournament, said Arnold. And everything would have to go right, and that is important to me - and when that doesn't happen, then I won't be here. And this may be my last, but I'm going to enjoy it.
In a way, its terribly endearing that he still feels this way. Thank the stars above that theres the least little glimmer that he could still do it. He hasnt forgotten how to hope. He hasnt given up the ghost entirely. He can still dream ' and obviously thats all it is, a dream.
I dont begrudge him one bit a spot in the field. I wouldnt begrudge him a spot if there were only 10 places in the field. Yeah, hes earned it with 62 wins on the regular tour. But hes earned it because there isnt one person on the Champions Tour that the fans would rather see tee it up. And lets face it ' the reason there ARE golf tournaments is because someone will pay to see them play. And Arnold is the guy, more than any other, that they will pay to see.
Someone noted that Jack Nicklaus is not at the Senior Open ' a choice hes made because he has just about decided to totally hang em up. How does Arnie feel about that?
Arnie, as far as he's concerned, said Palmer, he's here because he wants to be - not necessarily to win this golf tournament but to help add a little thing to me, my life and to the tournament.
Palmer has this love for the game that is just insatiable. How fortunate that the fans demand that he play the tournaments. He plays only five or six a year now, but he still draws a tremendous gallery. Its been 31 years since he won last won a regular-tour event, but its a testament to his widespread popularity that no one has forgotten. Every lap he takes is a victory lap, regardless of whether he shoots a 75 or a 90.
A whole new generation has grown up since he last won, and theyve taken to him just like their mothers and fathers ' grandmothers and grandfathers? People come and people go, generations pass and new ones are born, and yet he still remains the one constant. Just for once, let me see Arnie!
For 50 years, hes had this effect on people. Hes become accustomed to it by now, surely. But he still professes amazement that he is still the one in the spotlight. And in a way, he is still more than a little baffled by it ' people still want to see Arnold Palmer? Whatever in the world for?
Hes survived cancer, hes survived the death of a wife, he survived 10 years of missing cuts and golfing in mediocrity. But he still carries on ' and thank goodness for it!
I get tired sometimes, both physically and mentally, he admitted. But I can walk out of this room and be exhausted, and I'll go home and pick up a golf club and have the same enthusiasm that I had at 8 o'clock this morning.
The game is just too good and too big, and it's fun for me. It's still fun, even though I walked around and hit shots all over the place today. You couldn't have beat today. It was beautiful out there, and I played with three guys who hit the ball pretty well, and it was fun for me to just watch them hit it and recall some of the days that I was able to do the same thing.
You know, it's better than -- walking around, even if I'm tired and I'm not getting the club through the ball the way I want to and a lot of things, it's still fun for me. And it excites me, even though I don't play the way I want to.
Arnold Palmer has had a wonderful life. Hes done exactly what he wanted to do, which is working at the thing he loves most. Golf is his life. And may he never stop swinging the club. There would be regrets from one corner of the globe to the next. Arnold, you see, is golfs idol.
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