Palmer shot 70-66-69 to take a 2-shot lead into the final round at the Masters. But he had a fitful time of it the final day, starting with an easy missed par putt at the first hole. He struggled to a 39 on the front nine, and after he had played the 15th hole, he was two shots behind that same old nemesis ' pal Dow Finsterwald ' and Gary Player, who had defeated Palmer in the 61 Masters when Palmer led by a stroke going into the 72nd hole.
And on the 16th, Palmer didnt help himself any when his tee shot missed the green. As he was sizing up a chip of some 45 feet, Arnie heard Demaret from a nearby television tower.
This shot will perhaps put Arnold Palmer out of contention for the Masters championship, said Demaret, noting the dire straits that Arnold had put himself in. It was nothing but straight talk, spoken honestly, but Palmer couldnt help but get upset.
He eyed the 45 feet to the cup, then settled in over the ball. He swung ' and then watched as the ball bounded into the cup for an unlikely birdie!
At 17, he did it again. This time it was a 20-foot birdie putt that settled into the cup to knot the tournament. And when he parred in on 18, the Masters had the first three-way playoff in its history.
The Monday playoff ' there was no such thing as sudden death in those days ' was anticlimactic. Arnie birdied four of the first six holes, and the other two were playing from behind all the way. Palmer finished with a 68, Player finished with an otherwise-exemplary 71, while Finsterwalds 77 brought up the rear.
Caddie Nathaniel (Ironman) Avery laughed when he discussed how Palmer goes about his business. He just jerks at his glove, tugs at his trouser belt and starts walking fast, said Avery. When he does that, everybody better watch out. Hes going to stampede anything in his way.
At the victory ceremony, Palmer was given the ultimate compliment from Bobby Jones.
His courage, skill and stamina are unapproachable. I have extravagant admiration for you.