Palmer honoring late father with play at Shriners


When Ryan Palmer lost his father in August, he knew that it would lead him to add an event in October.

Charles Palmer, better known as Butch, died at age 71 in a one-car accident on Aug. 19 near his home in Amarillo, Texas. When he wasn't watching his son play on the PGA Tour, Palmer was active in the Shriners network, at one point serving as the head officer of the Khiva Shrine in Amarillo.

Palmer returned to golf shortly after his father's death, finishing T-6 at The Barclays to spark a playoff run that ended at the BMW Championship. In crafting his fall schedule, he opted to add this week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to honor his father and the organization with which he was active for nearly three decades.

"When it happened, I told myself I was going to play," Palmer said. "It was during the playoffs when I told myself I'm definitely going to play Shriners, just in honor of him. It's got more meaning."

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As he did at The Barclays, Palmer has used the motivation to spark a run up the standings this week in Las Vegas. After missing the cut at the Open, he opened with a 6-under 65 at TPC Summerlin. He followed that with a 69, and at 8 under he heads into the weekend in position to contend for his first win since the 2010 Sony Open.

While any victory on Tour is special, a win this week would carry with it some extra magnitude for the 39-year-old.

"I brought my mom out here, and my uncle. They just needed to be here," he said. "I've definitely got some great memories of trips I've taken with the Shriners, and still a lot of great friends that I have there that are a part of it."

Palmer said he talked with his father about someday joining the Shriners, and he nearly did so after graduating from Texas A&M in 2000. He instead opted for a career inside the ropes, but added that there "will definitely be a time" when he follows in his father's footsteps with the organization.

For now, though, Palmer's focus remains on the course, where this week the emotions of his father's memory have fueled some strong play through two rounds.

"I think there's definitely a lot of meaning this weekend," he said. "Hopefully it will keep me calm and have a good week."