Fifty Years of Arnie is Great for Golf

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Champions TourFifty years 600 months 18,238 days half a century. It was back in 1954 that Arnold Palmer became a professional golfer, and this week hes celebrating at the Champions Tours MasterCard Championship in Hawaii.
 
Did somebody say celebrating? Arnie feigned surprise when informed that this is a great milestone in his life.
 
Good gracious! he said. Fifty years! Im glad you told me because I wouldnt have believed it.
 
In the 50 years, he has done some pretty impressive things on the golf course. He won the Masters four times. He won the British Open in back-to-back years ' 1961 and 1962. He won the U.S. Open in 1960, coming from seven strokes off the pace in the final day to win at Cherry Hills.
 
Im so grateful for being able to have the life I had, whether its the Masters in 60 or 58, or the Open in 60 ' you know ' or the British Open, everything! said Palmer. Its just been a wonderful existence. And if I had it to do over again, Id like to do it the same way.
 
The way he won was almost as noteworthy as the 62 times he won on the PGA Tour, 10 times he won on the Champions Tour and 11 times he won around the world. To many golf fans, he is the most exciting golfer ever.
 
Arnie came with the shirt-tail flapping, with the aggressive play, ushered in television, said Hale Irwin. It all came together at such a good time, and he escorted Arnies Army and the legions through so many exciting tournaments, coming from way back, driving the green at Cherry Hills in 1960 - all those things conjure up such great memories of what Arnold Palmer was able to do. He brought the excitement level to golf to a level it had never been before.
 
Tom Watson marveled at the man that did all these things.
 
Winning the Masters the way he did a couple of times ' that solidified Arnold as a champion and a hero to a lot of people, Watson said. And coming from behind to win a great tournament like the Masters ' people remember that. And of course his personality and his charge ' it created a tremendous amount of interest in golf.
 
But as much as he is revered for his on-course feats, he is even more revered for the things he has done off the course.
 
The hallmark of Arnolds career is his popularity, said Jack Nicklaus, the man who finally eclipsed Palmer as the games most prolific winner.
 
What he did to popularize the game of golf, playing with Eisenhower particularly and bringing Presidents into the game ' and he started, really, television golf. Arnold was right there with all of that, and he was the guy that sort of spearheaded and led it.
 
Gary Player, who along with Palmer and Nicklaus formed golf s Big Three in the 1960s, is amazed by what he sees of the man they call The King. Palmer doesnt like the term, never has, but the golfing public hung the moniker on him decades ago, and it persists even today.
 
Arnold Palmer has been a great credit to the game of golf, said Player. He fell out of bed with charisma ' which is a gift from God. Hes capitalized on it, but you know ' we all know hes been a great player, but to be a gentleman is something that I think would make his parents very, very happy.
 
He set a good example to a lot of young people, and to be a good role model in any sport, you leave something behind.
 
Lee Trevino summed it when he talked about the whole of Arnold Palmer.
 
Hes Mr. Nice, Trevino said simply.
 
I made a statement a long time ago ' I said, If you looked up the word Class in the dictionary, Arnold Palmers face would be next to the word for definition. You can identify him anywhere in the world ' you can go anyplace in the world and people know who Arnold Palmer is.
 
Thats who I want to be like when I grow up! said Trevino, then laughed heartily. Trevino is, after all, 64 years old.

Ive lost a few, Palmer winced. But the average is pretty good, and its been fun.
 
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