ORLANDO, Fla. – Win a tournament; get a letter. It’s been a tradition for years in golf’s professional circles, and it’s one that Rory McIlroy would like to see continue in the wake of Arnold Palmer’s death.
Palmer and Jack Nicklaus have regularly sent notes to tournament winners across all levels in recent years, with Palmer’s typed congratulations often a coveted prize for champions. On Tuesday, McIlroy tweeted a picture of the letter Palmer sent him after his first major victory at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
“Arnold and Jack, because Jack does the exact same thing, they have set a precedent for the younger generation to follow in their footsteps and do these things," McIlroy said Wednesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “I remember getting that letter after I won the U.S. Open from Arnold and when he said, ‘You’re now in a position where you have a responsibility,’ and it does, it hits home with you.”
McIlroy said he received a note from Palmer after each of his professional victories, including one following the Deutsche Bank Championship in September that Palmer wrote just days before he died. He has framed each of those correspondences, and they all hang in his office at home.
While he has years to go before penning any notes of his own to a younger generation, McIlroy said he could one day see himself taking on such a role as one of the game’s elder statesmen.
“Maybe like whenever I’m at the end of my career, it’s a nice thing to do. A young guy comes through and you can relate to the position that he’s in,” McIlroy said. “I’ve gotten a few handwritten notes as well, which is really classy from Jack and from Arnold. People don’t do that much anymore, and that’s something that I would like to try and pick up from them and continue to go with.”