One of my greatest thrills was walking up to the last hole with Dave Marr with a six-shot lead and knowing that unless I dropped dead, I wasnt going to lose. And that was fun.
Arnold Palmer was the speaker, and the 1964 Masters was HIS tournament. He had opened with a 69, came back with a 68 Friday for a four-shot lead, added a third straight under-par performance Saturday with a 69, and tied a ribbon on it Sunday with a 70.
And then it was over, and Arnold had his fourth Masters victory. With the exception of Jack Nicklaus, who has six, Palmers four is the most in Masters history.
The year 1964 hadnt been terribly kind to Palmer before the Masters. It was the first time since 1956 that he had not yet won a tournament by the time the Augusta rolled around, and 14 had been played. So by the time he stepped on the first tee, Arnie was ready.
Palmer had a five-shot lead on the field by the end of Saturday, and he continued his onslaught Sunday. He had a strong front nine, and suddenly the tournament scoring record began to creep into his mind. Lets see, Hogan shot 274 in 1953
That, said Palmer later, was absolutely the wrong thing to be thinking. But nonetheless, Sunday was a joyous occasion as he played the round with his good friend, Dave Marr.
Playing the par-5 15th with a sizeable lead, Palmer went for the green with his second shot and lost the ball in the glare of the sun. Anxiety set in for a moment as he glanced at the expanse of water in front of the green. Did I make it? Arnold asked Marr.
Hell, Arnold, your DIVOT got there, said a bemused Marr.
And when he reached the 18th tee with a six-stroke lead, he generously asked runner-up Marr what he could do to help his pal. Marrs face brightened. How about making a 12? said Marr.
Palmer methodically played the hole, missing a 25-footer for birdie and settling for a par. He had missed hogans record by two strokes, scoring a 276. But Arnie said the 64 Masters was his greatest achievement in professional golf.
This is the most singularly exciting tournament for me ever, said Palmer. I planned to do something and did what I wanted.