Alive and Well

Wanted to share this yesterday, but apparently in our still slightly bugged system, spell check also means delete. Lost a lengthy post, but not to be deterred we’ll carry on.

Where was I?

It’s not often a player with no chance to win garners a press conference to announce his inclusion. But when that player is Arnold Palmer, fanfare knows no bounds.

Friday afternoon the “King” took center stage at McCormick & Schmick’s downtown to announce his intention to play in the 2006 Champions Tour Constellation Energy Classic.

Taking center stage with embattled Constellation Energy CEO Mayo Shattuck in the audience is no small feet. Shattuck shared that with his now being referred to by first name only in Baltimore Sun articles that his daughter says he’s reached an iconic level of celebrity, like Prince. Or maybe a level of infamy, like O.J.

But Palmer’s presence captivated the room. And that surprised me.

I met Palmer once before. He took part in an event I covered from 2002. The opening of the First Tee facility in Little Rock. On that day he seemed guarded and unsure of himself. It concerned me that four years later, now 76, a slide towards diminished capacity might have occurred.

I quickly learned, my concerns, like Darren Daulton’s bizarre rantings, were baseless.

Palmer held court as you would expect. The eight time major winner was funny, thoughtful, and on point throughout a 20 minute presentation, slash, Q&A session with the media.

His retelling of the 1956 PGA Eastern Open at Mt. Pleasant Golf Course in Baltimore was a gem.

Palmer said he was tired heading into the tourney and just not ready to play. On the first hole of the first day he hooked his tee shot onto Hillen Rd. Out of bounds and two stroke penalty.

“That’s it. I’m done”, said Palmer as he started walking off the course.

Fortunately for Palmer his playing partner Doug Ford put a hold on those plans. Telling Arnie, “everybody knows you can still win this tournament even if you give us all two strokes “.

Probably the last time Ford made that mistake. Palmer not only won, as he put it “comfortably”. But at one point in the tourney he led by 12 strokes.

Back to the present where Palmer said “If you think I’m coming there with the attitude that I won’t win, you’re crazy. I may not, but that’s what drives me.”

He later however told me his game right now is “bad”. Fortunately there is no cut on the Champions Tour so we are guaranteed three rounds of golf with the legend this September.

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