Palmer retires from ceremonial opening tee shot at Augusta Masters
March 16 2016 10:05 PM
JOFFREY
Arnold Palmer

AFP/Bay Hill

Four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer will not hit the ceremonial opening tee shot at Augusta National this year, for the first time since 2007, due to a lingering shoulder injury.
The 86-year-old Palmer had been an honorary starter at the Masters since 2007. “Am I disappointed by that? Well, sure, but time moves on,” Palmer said from Bay Hill on Tuesday, where he hosts this week’s PGA Tour stop.
“I stopped playing in the Masters in 2004, I stopped playing in the Par-3 (Contest) last year, and now it’s time to end this part of my Masters career. I would love to go on doing it forever, but I don’t have the physical capability to hit the shot the way I would want to hit it. So I’ll have to be content to watch.”
Palmer said he had told Augusta National officials of his decision. Tournament chairman Billy Payne said he had spoken to Palmer.
“It makes no difference whether he hits a drive,” Payne said. “He is a true legend in golf and will be welcomed as usual on the first tee with the other Masters honorary starters. It will be a great day.”
Palmer has made few appearances this week at the Florida tournament he founded, and opted out of his usual pre-tournament press conference.
Although Palmer’s presence around the game is less regular these days, today’s young stars are well aware of the iconic player’s impact on the game.
Palmer, who played in 50 Masters tournaments from 1955-2004, was golf’s first television superstar, with charisma that inspired a legion of fans that came to be known as “Arnie’s Army”.
“Let’s be honest, it’s kind of a nerdy sport,” Australia’s Jason Day said. “Arnold Palmer made golf sexy.”
Palmer, a seven-times major winner who triumphed at Augusta National in 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964, was joined in the opening tee shot festivities by friends and rivals Jack Nicklaus in 2010 and Gary Player in 2012. The 2016 Masters begins on April 7 at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.



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