RAND JERRIS: It's a distinct pleasure to be joined by Mr. Arnold Palmer. Mr. Palmer is competing in his 24th consecutive Senior Open. He is a three-time USGA champion having won the second Senior Open in 1981, the U.S. Open in 1960, and in a few weeks, he'll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of his 1954 U.S. Amateur. Perhaps you could talk about what it's been like to be a USGA champion for the last 50 years.
ARNOLD PALMER: Old mostly (laughter). No, it's been wonderful. I think winning the amateur was certainly one of the most important wins that I ever had in golf, and certainly as the years go by, that becomes more and more important to me. The fact that they're doing a big thing in Detroit on the anniversary is very nice, and it's all for charity and for young people in the city of Detroit, so that will be nice.
I suppose that they may have gone a little further than I wanted to go, but again, it's for a good purpose, so we're going to go and we're going to have some fun, and the fact that there's so many past champions going to show up, I'm just flattered for that.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I think that the Senior Open, winning that, was sort of a thing that I felt I had to do. I mean, you look at various golf tournaments, and for the best part, I've been able to succeed most of the time. There's still one or two that I haven't been able to do, but the fact that I won the Senior Open was important to me, and I think it helped kick off the importance of the Senior Tour and the Senior Open as a USGA event.
ARNOLD PALMER: '65. It was hard, and it hasn't gotten any easier. The golf course couldn't be better. I mean, it is really just about as good as you would want to have a golf course for a championship such as this, and you have to hit it. I'll tell you, you just can't dilly-dally it around on this golf course. You know, in '65 they talked about it being a long hitters' golf course, and, of course, we all kind of agreed that it was a golf course that hitting it long was very important. It was kind of amazing that the two guys that tied were two of the shorter hitters on the Tour, Nagel and Player, and that just tells you some more about the golf course, the fact that it looks like it's going to benefit the long hitter and the big hitter, but there's a lot of strategy required out there, and the guys that aren't so long have to play that strategy, and, of course, it was proven then that that length is not the only thing on this golf course, which is good.
The condition of the golf course is so good that if you just keep it in the fairways off the tee and hit the greens, you're going to have a chance to win this golf tournament. It doesn't matter how far you are from the green. If you can get it on the green, you're going to have a shot at it. There's been a wide open situation for a major event on the Senior Tour; I think this is one that brings a lot of players into play.
Q. Jay Haas was the last guy in here, and he says sometimes when he's not playing well, he's lost his passion and zest for the sport. In these 50 years, have you ever lost your passion or zest for golf at all?
ARNOLD PALMER: No, I don't think so. I get tired sometimes, both physically and mentally, but I can walk out of this room and be exhausted, which I am pretty tired today, and I'll go home and pick up a golf club and have the same enthusiasm that I had at 8:00 o'clock this morning.
The game is just too good and too big, and it's fun for me. It's still fun, even though I walked around and hit shots all over the place today. You couldn't have beat today; it was beautiful out there, and I played with three guys who hit the ball pretty well, and it was fun for me to just watch them hit it and recall some of the days that I was able to do the same thing.
You know, it's better than -- walking around, even if I'm tired and I'm not getting the club through the ball the way I want to and a lot of things, it's still fun for me, and it excites me, even though I don't play the way I want to.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I don't think it was as prominent in my day as it is today, and for the best part, my father was my swing guru, and when he was gone, that kind of ended the guru part for me (laughter). I just went out and played, and it was fun for me to play.
I don't have a problem with really the swing guru or a lot of the other things that are happening, the psychology of the game and all that, I think that's fine. I just wish them all luck and hope that they enjoy it as much as I have.
Q. So many players will identify that one of the great moments in their lives was when they found themselves paired with you in a practice round or in a round of a championship. Think back to where you were of an age to win a U.S. Amateur.
Who were the players that gave you the special thrill that you actually found yourself playing on the golf course with? ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I played some golf with, gracious, Sam Snead was one of the guys that I thoroughly enjoyed playing with. You've heard a lot of things about Sam Snead, and I'm not even going to get into the personalities of all that. What I will say is that I can play a round of golf with Sam Snead, and whether it was in a tournament or whether -- we played numerous times in the Canada Cup over the years and we won it each time we played, and watching Sam Snead play golf set a pace for me and gave me the kind of swing rhythm that I was looking for. So, he was one that was -- I could watch him swing and emulate him a little bit with my swing, which wasn't anywhere near -- I wish it was somewhere near his, but it set a rhythm for me that really helped my golf.
But I played with Hogan and Middlecoff and Lloyd Magnum, Jimmy Demerit, and they were all guys that were good guys. They were guys that I enjoyed. I didn't get into the social world with them. I'm talking strictly golf for the best part. They were people that you could enjoy playing golf with. Does that answer that question? Q. You're here -- I don't remember exactly how many years ago at the Bloom Valley event, and it was rained out, they had to send people home and stuff. I don't know if you get a sense that people are happy to get a second chance here to see you play this week and be back in St. Louis? ARNOLD PALMER: Yeah, and, of course, to see how many were out there this morning, it was unbelievable. It looked like the last round of a tournament, and they were having fun. They were enjoying it. That's kind of what a practice round is all about, get these people out and get them enthused, and hopefully they're enjoying what they're seeing and what is going on.
The guys that I played with today were good in that respect, too. Gary is always -- he's getting to the point where he's becoming an entertainer, not a golfer (laughter), but he's good at it, and people like that. That's good for the game.
The other two guys are young kids. They're just in their early 50s, and they both hit the hell out of the ball. They were hitting it long. On 17, the par 5, one of them hit right up on the front fringe in two on 17, and I've played with Els here, and I've played with a lot of guys here, but that's as close to really two good perfect shots as I've seen on that hole. These guys are great young players. I would give either one of them an opportunity to win this tournament if they can keep it all together. Q. Several generations grew up with their introduction to professional golf being Arnie and Jack, and that's what they heard, what they found about pro golf was Arnie and Jack. Is there any disappointment on your part that Arnie is here and Jack isn't at an event like this anymore? ARNOLD PALMER: No, I think we're past that stage now. I certainly think that Jack has a right to relax and not play if that's his feeling, and Arnie, as far as he's concerned, he's here because he wants to be, not necessarily to win this golf tournament but to help add a little thing to me, my life and to the tournament. I was asked a couple years ago when they knew the tournament was coming here by some friends to come and play, and I suppose that if I had thought about it, and the way I was feeling, not real great, I might not have played, but I was committed and I'm here simply because I want to be here, and I want to play in the golf tournament.
I would certainly, as all of you know, want to play better than I've been playing, but I'm almost to the point where, yeah, I'm here because somewhere in the back of my head I'm still stupid enough to think that I can win a golf tournament, and everything would have to go right, and that is important to me, and when that doesn't happen, then I won't be here, and this may be my last, but I'm going to enjoy it. Q. Put on your architect's hat. You've been around this golf course. As somebody who's built and designed golf courses, if you were tinkering around the edges of Bellerive, are there any holes you would play around with, and what would you do differently? ARNOLD PALMER: Well, my first statement was that the golf course was very good, so tinkering around could mean a lot of things, and I suppose that, oh, there's some angles and some turns that I might do something with as far as where you tee the ball from, number one, or there might be some sand traps that I might move, but when you make a statement like I made, that it's a good golf course, and it's one that will take care of itself in this championship or any other championship. I don't like to second-guess what might be or what might not be. It's tough.
I suppose that I might -- if you're just asking for what I might do, I might stagger the tees on some holes where there's a lot of Jones-type architecture, but again, I still give them credit. It's a good golf course.