Arnold Palmer always knew how to entertain a crowd on the golf course, which is why his galleries always seemed to be overflowing, and how the phenomenon known as Arnie’s Army was created. Even without a golf club, Palmer is still the King, and he hasn’t lost his ability to please a crowd when he’s holding court.
The founder and host of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard met with members of the media Wednesday morning before doing what he still does best: giving people a thrill with a golf club in his hands, which he did during the Pro-Am.
Palmer, 81, was witty, engaging and thoughtful for more than 30 minutes as he took on a range of questions. Here are some of the highlights from his traditional press conference:
On the golf course:
“We expect the greens will be firm. They will be rolling somewhere 12 or 13 when the tournament starts tomorrow. And conditions generally are very, very good. We've had good weather. We had probably our best Monday we've ever had in the history of the tournament. The golf course is going to be firm, and the rough is going to be tough. And of course, you hear this all the time, but fairways and greens may be more important this week than it's been in a long time on the TOUR.”
On slow play in professional golf:
“Slow play? Well, I think, of course, I put up with it for 50 years (laughter) and I think it's something that is very hard to regulate, but I think they are doing a reasonable job in getting play speeded up.”
On young players:
“I think that the TOUR has a great number of personalities. These young people are coming along, I think that's a headliner in itself. The Rickie Fowlers, the Sam Saunderses (his grandson). I couldn't help that. But there are a lot of young guys that I know and have spoken to this week, and they are all very excited about being here and playing in this tournament. And they have got great personalities. Certainly our field is a good field. The potential here and in the future for these players, these young people coming along, is fantastic.”
On the importance on winning this event before the Masters:
“For a lot of years, I had won tournaments prior to Augusta. So that wasn't something that I worried about. I think that's just a confidence builder to win a golf tournament, and I think that would apply to any player in the field; to have won a tournament prior to that is always a confidence builder.”
On swing instructors and how he learned the game:
“My father was my swing coach, and I saw him at least once a year for about 70 years, and he never changed anything. He watched me for five minutes and went home. (Laughter) It's like he put my grip on the club and my hands on the golf club when I was six years old and he said, ‘Boy, don't you ever change it.’ Well, I haven't changed it. And I'm 81 years old.”