Palmer a Winner - Then Suddenly a Loser In 61


The Masters has become known for its winners, but it has also become known for those who looked like they would win but didn't.
Arnold Palmer won in 1958 when he lodged a complaint about a penalty. He was penalized on No 12, but played a provisional ball and before the end of the round, was declared to have been right. He won again in 1960 when he sunk a long putt on 17 for birdie, then made another on 18 for birdie and the victory.
He thought he had won in 1961, too, as did the entire Masters gallery. He had come to the 18th hole with the lead and placed his tee shot very neatly in the middle of the fairway, looking for all the world like the winner.
As he was walking up the fairway, he paused to accept congratulations. Bravo, congrats, well done, they were saying. Palmer did his best to keep from getting ahead of himself, but he admits that he did start working on his victory speech a little early.
A 7-iron was all he needed to reach the green. But then disaster struck. Arnold pushed the shot into a bunker on the right side. He had been conscious of having to get it up - up beyond the front edge of the green. But he wasn't fully into the shot, perhaps thinking still about the words of congratulations. He came off it just a little, and it plopped into the sand.
He was now angry at himself for being so foolish at taking the congratulations prematurely. As he dug his feet into the sand and swung, he caught the ball thin. It flew out hot, coming to rest on the other side on the green, down a nasty slope.
Now he was faced with having to get the shot up and down in two strokes just to tie the man behind him, Gary Player. He attempted to putt it, but it reached the area of the pin and kept on rolling, rolling, 15 feet past.
Now he needed to make a 15-footer just to tie. He watched it curl off, and Palmer had a 6 and a defeat in a major he almost surely should have won.
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