All the King’s Men
Arnold Palmer will not be one of the three (with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player) legends hitting the ceremonial opening tee shots at this year’s Masters. Mr. Palmer cites a sore shoulder as the reason he is retiring from the honor and says that he is no longer able to swing as he would like to.
Mr. Palmer has been an honorary starter at the Masters since 2007, but the 86 year old King is bowing to the one certainty that all of our greatest heroes must eventually succumb to; Time.
“Am I disappointed by that? Well, sure, but time moves on,” Mr. Palmer said in an interview at Bay Hill last week where he hosted his annual PGA Tour event.
Mr. Palmer is the game’s greatest hero and it’s most beloved star. He is responsible for the enormous popularity that golf enjoys today and is a generational icon that inspires millions and is revered by millions more.
Two of the game’s biggest stars today, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson, were not able to play at Bay Hill this week. Fowler because of other commitments and Watson due to a lingering back issue. Rather than calling to withdraw from the event, both players drove to meet Mr. Palmer in person to pay their respects and apologize for not being able to play.
This week also marked the first time in the history of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, that Mr. Palmer did not conduct his live press conference on Wednesday. The once robust, swashbuckling frame that carried the great man has been replaced by the body of a man who has grown old.
But greatness like his is a spirit that transcends generations and burns eternal. As the brilliance of Summer turns to the farewell of Winter, so too will that make way for the re-birth that is Spring. The remembrance of which is an infinite thread that lasts forever and is the rarest of all human endeavors.
That spirit is evident in the actions of Fowler, Watson, and a host of professionals and an Army of People.
Australian, Adam Scott, was looking to win his third consecutive Tour event and his opening 5-under par, 67, put him in a great position, one behind fellow countryman Jason Day who shot a 66.
Scott as unable to continue his brilliant play and would finish the week in a tie for 12th, but Day would lead after both the second and third rounds. It was a welcome return to form for one of golf’s new “Big 3” who has had a lackluster beginning to 2016 after his 5 win year in 2015.
Day would close with a 2-under par, 70 that was good enough to edge out Kevin Chappell by a single shot and be his 8th career victory.
By all accounts, Day is one of the nicest people on the Tour and a genuinely good person, a descendant of all the things that Mr. Palmer has been for all his wonderful life.