Arnold Palmer has played The Masters 50 times in his illustrious career. Arnold Palmer: The Masters brings back memories

Four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer will be the honorary starter at this week's Masters in Augusta, Ga., hitting the first tee shot Thursday.

Palmer has played The Masters 50 times in his illustrious career. Of course, the game of golf now is a little different than back when he first teed it up, but Palmer shows that he can still spar with the media, and occasionally stump them too.

Looking back on his career, here is what the golf legend had to say on the eve of the first golf major of 2007.

Arnold Palmer

Q. You talked about wanting it to be the right time. What were you waiting for for it to be the right time?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I think the time has come. My competitive golf is done. I have no intentions of playing competitively, let's say, on the Tour. Maybe I might play some friendly competitions, but as far as competition like the Masters or playing the Tour in any way, shape or form, is not a reality anymore. I will appear from time to time in events that are unrelated to the championship form that I once played.

Q. Will this be a recurring role for you, or do you see this as maybe a one-time trial?

ARNOLD PALMER: I'm sorry. Say that again.

Q. Would you just do this more than once?

ARNOLD PALMER: I don't know. I'll refer that to the Chairman. (Laughter).

Q. Mr. Palmer, any temptation if a drive goes right down the middle of the fairway to follow it down there and take another shot and keep playing up the first hole?

ARNOLD PALMER: (Grinning broadly) You know, I'm not too smart, but I'm not stupid. (Laughter). I think I'll just let it go wherever it goes.

Q. Phil Mickelson was in here earlier talking about new Callaway square-headed drivers which go 20 yards further. You're a Callaway man; have you got one of these?

ARNOLD PALMER: Do I have one? (Laughter). How long have you been coming to the Masters? You are new, aren't you? I have a half a dozen. No, I do have a number of square drivers that I have been fooling with, and I like them. But I'm not hitting it as far as I need to hit it to make any difference. Does that answer your question?

Q. Will you be using a square-driver for the tee shot?

ARNOLD PALMER: Will I be using it? No. I just brought my clubs and it just didn't happen to be in the bag when I brought them.

Q. When was this decision made? Was this something recently, and was it a tough decision for you to make?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, it's been in my mind. I have talked to some of my friends, to Billy. I suppose to be perfectly honest with you, a couple of years ago I thought that I might do what I'm going to do this week. I just didn't want to rush it. I didn't want to get out ahead of myself. I talked to Billy about it, and I felt like since I'm really not going to be playing and competing in golf tournaments all over the world anymore, this was a good time.

Q. Was it you finally approaching Billy and saying, "I'm ready," or did Billy come to you and say, "Are you ready?"

ARNOLD PALMER: We discussed it.

Q. Any thoughts about talking to Jack and eventually Gary maybe to join you in this pursuit?

ARNOLD PALMER: Again, I will refer that to the Chairman. (Laughter).

Q. If he does, would there be any arm-twisting on your part to get those guys to come join you?

ARNOLD PALMER: To let them join me or to tell them to stay the hell away? (Laughter).

Q. Either one.

ARNOLD PALMER: Hey, they don't call me when they want to do something. I'm not going to call them. They are my friends, and I'll leave it right there.

Q. I noticed just now on the way up to the podium you were looking at the two photos of you and Jack over there; do they bring up any memories of Augusta for you?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I think this is Jack at age 55 or 60 when he won -- (laughter).And I'm not sure about the one on the right. That may be, that could be as early as 58, and I can't be sure.

Q. Earlier Tiger and Phil talked about having to give the other the green jacket. What was it like to have to trade out the green jacket with Jack in the '60s there?

ARNOLD PALMER: As long as I was doing it, I loved it. Does that answer your question?

Q. You seem to have certain mixed emotions about taking on this role. Can you tell us why?

ARNOLD PALMER: Only because I didn't want to jump the gun and do it too early in my career. Things kind of wear away a little bit. The thoughts of playing and not playing in the Masters was very important to me, as all of you know in this room. It was something that, it was a hard one to stop playing, and I knew I should. I mean, it wasn't a question of continuing for any reason other than pride, I suppose. When I quit, I just wanted to think about not playing in the Masters and get over that, and then I would be ready; and I'm ready.

Q. And has it been tough just not coming here and competing the last -- since you made that decision? Does it still get to your heart?

ARNOLD PALMER: Certainly it's tough. There's no question. I come here, and because I like it. And I play golf here and I enjoy that. But, you know, when you see all of these young guys out there, it's a hard bullet to swallow when you see the guys hitting the ball as far as they are and playing the kind of golf they are, and to know that you're not going to do that anymore, and I've known it for a number of years now. As I say, it's a hard pill to swallow. All of a sudden, I'll sit at home and watch it on television from time to time and think, "You know, I could have done that better." This is realistic; this is not just a figment of my imagination. And that is hard, as I say, it's a hard pill to swallow. You've got to think about it. You realize it's over, and it's been my life for well over 50 years, as you know.

Q. When you came here, when you played all those years you would see Byron and Gene Sarazen and Jack Hutchinson, maybe some of the guys as the Honorary Starter; did you ever think how neat that was to see the old legends hit the ball when you were still playing?

ARNOLD PALMER: Yes, to all of your questions. And what it brought back to me was the fact that the first time I played in the Masters was 1955. There might be someone in this room who knows who I played with that first day that I ever played here, but I never forgot it. And it was a day that I will always remember. I remembered, as soon as we talked about being Honorary Starter or playing in the Masters, that first day that I ever played here was something that came straight to my mind. I question anybody in this room to tell me who it was I played with. Boy, you are young people, aren't you?

Q. Sorry, Mr. Palmer, I don't have the answer.

ARNOLD PALMER: Oh, I thought you had the answer.

Q. Sorry.

ARNOLD PALMER: Would you like to know who?

Q. Yes. (In unison).

ARNOLD PALMER: Gene Sarazen.

Q. My question was: Coming back on the reflections that you're having, what is the most memorable moment that you can think of in your Masters span?

ARNOLD PALMER: What is the most memorable moment?

Q. What was or is, yes.

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I just told you one of them and that was playing with Gene Sarazen. I was fresh out of the Amateur ranks. That was before the Masters revoked the Amateur status for the winning of the Amateur. If you win the Amateur now and turn pro, you lose your exemption to the Masters.

But in those days, that had not happened. So I turned pro and still got my invitation to the Masters. That was one of the great thrills of my life to play with Gene Sarazen the first day, and those of you that had never seen him play, he was a very quick player. Well, that just pleased the hell out of me. I like to go fast.

Gene, he was putting; when I would hit a putt, if it didn't go in the hole, he just waited until I got my ball out of the way so he could putt. And if mine went in, he was putting while mine was still in the hole.

And he was a gentleman to play with. I thought, "Boy, you know, if this is the way it is, it's great."

Transcripts provided by ASAP Sports.

April 4, 2007

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