May 24, 2005
JULIUS MASON: Arnold Palmer, ladies and gentlemen, playing in his 24th senior PGA Championship. As many of you know, Arnold is the honorary chairman of the senior PGA Championship this week. So Arnold, some opening thoughts and then we'll go to Q&A, please.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I don't have a great deal to say, except that I'm getting great vibes from the players. They have been, it appears that they're very happy with the golf course. And of course if I had a wish, my wish would be that it would stop raining right now and not rain any more until next Tuesday. But the people, the volunteers, I'm very happy with the situation, the officials of my club here, Laurel Valley, have really worked very hard to make this a good situation and I'm pleased with that. And I'm extremely happy that the players are enjoying the golf course.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you, Arnold. Questions, folks.
Q. With this being on your home course and obviously you being the tournament host, is there any pressure for you to play very well, to make the cut, to get to the weekend? Because so many people want to see you in this thing on Saturday and Sunday?
ARNOLD PALMER: Now Andrew, you and I have talked about this already, but you know my answer. But certainly there's it's a demand performance for me but I just hope that I can play reasonably well. My game is unsatisfactory right at the moment. I played a few holes just now with Jay Haas. And very frankly, he is swinging so well and playing so well it made me feel kind of inadequate out there. And of course what can I muster from here to Thursday morning? Not much more determination, because I've got that. I'm not sure that I have the physical ability to make that desire fulfill itself. But I'm going to try.
Q. Jack Fleck was in before and just maybe you can clarify this or talk about this. He said a lot of people don't realize that in 1960 the USGA did away or did not have a penalty for out of bounds shots. And he said he played with you in the first two rounds at Cherry Hills and you actually hit a ball out of bounds. I think he said on 14. Do you recall any of that? Is that correct?
ARNOLD PALMER: I don't remember that.
Q. Do you recall that rule? Was that correct?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, what he was saying is that it was a penalty ‑‑ there was a penalty. But it was not a stroke penalty, it was distance only. Now, I assume that he clarified that by.
Q. Yeah, there was no stroke and distance, right?
ARNOLD PALMER: It was not stroke and distance. It was merely distance. And that's what he meant.
Q. Do you recall you hitting one?
ARNOLD PALMER: No, I don't recall that.
Q. He said the 14th hole?
ARNOLD PALMER: I suppose it was because I didn't have to stroke, or take the stroke.
Q. Jack Nicklaus said last week that his last golf tournament would be the British Open. I think a lot of people are, my age anyway, can't believe that you and Jack won't be playing golf for as long as we can turn on a TV. Could you talk with us about the length of your career, how much longer you want to play golf and why you continue to play at your age?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I don't mind talking about that. First of all, I suppose I could think of a lot of things to say about the fact that I still play. But I don't really need to. I can tell you this, that I enjoy it. I still enjoy it. I like to get out in the air and I like to walk and I like to do the things that are involved in playing golf.
The thing that ‑‑ the difference between Jack and I, Jack has a lot of other interests that are not necessarily golf. I think that everybody has their choice. The guy that I try to play a little like he did and watched for, in my youth, was a guy by the name of Byron Nelson and he quit when he was what? 32 years old. So as I say, it doesn't really matter. It's kind of how you get there and what you want to do after you get there.
I didn't get playing professional golf until I was 25 years old. And I always said that if I could make it work, I would play as long as I could walk. And that's kind of my way of doing it. Because I enjoy it. And I'm not going to make any rash statements about quitting or when I'm going to quit or what I'm going to do, because I, again, I enjoy it. And I will do it. I'll play at Latrobe or play here at Laurel Valley or at Bay Hill as long as my old body will allow me to play and I do enjoy it. So that's the fun for me.
Competitively, you'll see less of me. There's no question about that. I will not pursue that in any greater necessary from now on. Occasional tournaments here and there. Maybe some charity benefits and that sort of thing. But Jack left the door open also for that sort of thing. If you recall his remarks. He said that he would probably play some Skins games and play some special event type golf. So he's allowing himself a little room to continue to play some. And I would be, I suppose I would be disappointed if he didn't play some. Because I think he does enjoy the game, it's just a question of what's priorities that are most important for him.
Q. How thrilling is it for you to play in front of your hometown fans and also how important is it for you to see this championship come to Laurel Valley?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, as far as my playing is concerned, again, I have a concern, and that's my golf. It's not up to what I would like it to be. And I will leave that there. That's my major problem with that.
And playing in front of the people here, that's always fun for me. And having this championship at Laurel Valley is very important to me. It's a thing that we at the club here particularly enjoy. And to be able to have the guys in here and have the conditions that we have just hopeful that the weather is going to cooperate. I couldn't be more thankful for all of that.
Q. Since you and Jack, Lee, all those other guys who are responsible for creating senior golf or the Champions Tour to where it is now, where does Champions Tour golf go now with the new generations?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I would hope that we have established a pretty good foundation for the future of the Champions Tour. And of course I have reason to believe that that will continue. We have got a lot of very fine young players coming on to the Champions Tour and I think that if they conduct themselves properly and treat the game the way it should be treated, and the TOUR itself, the Champions Tour, that it will continue to succeed. I don't think that we have to play 40 events a year, I think that if we lose a few events through whatever, somewhere in the area of 30 or whatever is going to be a good situation. And I think that will be the situation. So I'm happy with it. And I think it's a track detective enough to attract sponsors as we go on. Does that answer your question?
Q. You talked about the weather a little bit earlier, obviously it's raining right now. Have you ever seen a season such as this that has been affected by the rain so much in your career?
ARNOLD PALMER: I think in my 50 years of professional golf this may be an exceptional year. I think that we have seen more rain and more rain outs and I don't know, we could probably check the records and find out, but it has been an exceptional year for bad weather. And in our situation right here, I'm reasonably confident that this golf course, unless we just have an absolute flood and a deluge of rain for the next couple days, that this golf course will be very playable through a reasonable amount of rainfall, meaning we'll be able to play the ball up and continue this tournament. Barring lightning or thunder storms and just torrential downpours, we'll be all right here. And hopefully that will, this front that is kind of hanging on here will pass and by Thursday we'll have some pretty good weather and Friday additional weather. And then we'll look at the weekend. But right now I think we're good for Thursday and Friday.
Q. You've said that your play right now is unsatisfactory. Are you confident that you can get it back to a point where you are happy or how is that ‑‑ or could it not go that way?
ARNOLD PALMER: I'm confident that if everything falls into place in the next tomorrow and I get hitting a few shots that I might make the cut. As far as winning the golf tournament, I've never played in a golf tournament in my life that I, that it wasn't my intention to win. The realistic part of that is that it's not as realistic as I would like it to be.
Q. For the first time in 50 years and April came and went without you playing in the Masters. What was that like for you, that weekend?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, for those of you who have been around me for a few years, you know that I'm not one to hang around. When I'm not playing, I'm gone. And that hasn't changed. I was at Augusta this year and I hung around for awhile because I really and truly think it's wonderful there and I've enjoyed 50 years of good fortunate, so I felt like I owed it to myself and to the Masters and to the club to be there and take part in some of the activities. But I will go back and say that it isn't my nature to hang around. When I'm not participating, I'm going to go to another club and play golf somewhere by myself. And that's just my nature. That's the way I am.
Q. Arnold, has the course been brought up to today's standard do you feel and would you like to get more "Major" types of events here and is that in the plan? And the third part, would you change any more holes?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I'll answer the last question first. And I will continue as long as I'm around, to make adjustments to this golf course. Kind of, if you wish to put it in this category, kind of like Augusta. The club and the people that I work with here are all in favor of continuing to upgrade the club and the golf course. And I will continue to do that. Probably in the next oh, maybe not this year, but next year, I will do some adjustments to the 11th hole and I think I will give you an alternative route to play that hole. Which will be down to the low side and into the green. That isn't a major adjustment, but it will give you an alternative. If you prefer going to the low side, you can do that. Or the upper side. That's an example of what we'll do.
And then there's some other holes that we might adjust a little. I've been looking at seven green. We may move it back a little, lower it a little, so that it's a little more of a challenge to the, to have the like in the front. And such things as that. We will continue to deepen our sand traps. We have deepened most all of them now. But there are a few that we can still put down a little lower, which will make it even more fun to play out of.
From time to time we'll just do whatever is necessary to improve the golf course and keep the golf course in the very highest category of all golf courses.
Q. Just to follow‑up on the Augusta comments you made, you said that you're not one to hang around. And yet we always continue to pressure you to find out if you might hang around for a Thursday morning to be an honorary starter or something like that. You've indicated your love for the golf course and for the event, is there a, after this year has gone by, have you rethought that at all?
ARNOLD PALMER: I have not. I am still ‑‑ I won't take it out of the hopper. But it's sort of resting. I haven't made a decision on that. If I had to make one right now, it would probably be no.
Q. One other question. Your grandson I believe is trying to qualify for the U.S. Open this year?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, he's trying to play in everything he can. So I assume he will, yes.
Q. How much do you advise him about those kind of things and the experience of doing that?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, other than what his mother and father advise him on, as far as golf is concerned, I think I'm advising him as much as I can. And we of course want him to play. To play as much and get as much experience as he is.
But I am not going to interfere in his life. And his life is that he is going to get his education and that's an order from headquarters, that means his mother, is going to see to it that he finishes school and goes on to college and finishes that.
And then he can do whatever he wants, because he will have fulfilled the requirements.
Now as far as his golf is concerned, I will continue to advise him on that. And I don't hang on and spend a lot of time with him. I don't need to. I think that he is at a stage now where his game is very solid. And all he needs to do is get his mind equipped to handle it and play the game, learn a little bit, get a little mature, and then do it by experience.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, Mr. Palmer.