Arnold Palmer never thought about dying. His doctors told him he could expect to recover from prostate cancer because it had been detected early, and he believed them.
Palmer never thought about slowing down, either. The first question he asked after his successful surgery Jan. 15 was how soon he could play golf.
Advised not to swing a club for six weeks, Palmer, 67, headed out to the golf course on the 43rd day and slashed away like he was seven strokes behind in the final round of the U.S. Open.
“I get the feeling people say, ‘Well, you’ve had cancer,’ that it’s all over,” Palmer said Wednesday. “Hell, it’s not all over. I have no intentions of lying down and stopping. I’m going to do something. If I can’t play golf, I’ll find something else that I want to do and that I can enjoy doing.
“Right now, as far as I’m concerned, it’s going to be golf.”
No doubt about that.
Palmer was already calculating when asked about the length of his recovery. He figured six weeks away from the game - an eternity for Palmer - would still give him enough time to get ready for his 40th Masters.
And he has played about 14 times over the past three weeks to build up his stamina for his own tournament, the Bay Hill Invitational, which starts today and has once again drawn one of the best fields of the year.
“He’s coming back from something scary,” said Davis Love III, who missed the last two weeks with kidney stones. “It’s great to see him back. It’s good to see him here and it’ll be good to see him at the Masters.”
Paul Goydos is the defending champion at the Bay Hill Club, a 7,207-yard, par-72 layout. Others in the field are Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods, Tom Lehman and Phil Mickelson. And Palmer, of course.
Palmer forms college competition
International match play took on another dimension when Palmer announced the formation of the Palmer Cup matches, a Ryder Cup competition for college golfers.
The first matches, pitting a team of U.S. college golfers against collegians from Great Britain, will take place July 10-12 at the Bay Hill Club.
The Palmer Cup is presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America and sponsored by Arnold Palmer Golf Co. The matches will be played every year.
The first day will feature four bestball matches and four alternate-shot matches. The second and third days will be singles.
Next year’s Palmer Cup will be at St. Andrews.
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