Four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer was given a fitting tribute on the first tee box on Thursday.
This year’s tournament is the first in over 50 years that Palmer won’t be involved in. A man that was given the fitting nickname “The King” passed away in September of last year. He was one of the true legends of the game and won seven majors over an illustrious career that lasted more than five decades spanning from 1954 until 2006.
Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were among the people moved to tears today as they remembered their great friend. A chair was placed on the first tee box with a green jacket lying over the back of it. The jacket was not only a symbol of the greatness of Arnold Palmer but it was also a little reminder to people, if they needed one, that this man was not to be forgotten. One of the greats of the game.
Masters chairman Billy Payne made an emotional statement to mark the start of the tournament.
“It is a wonderful but in one respect difficult day.
“For the first time in many, many decades someone is missing from the first tee here at Augusta National. The almost unbearable sadness we feel at the passing of Arnold Palmer is surpassed only by the love and affection we feel for him which will always reside in our hearts.”
Payne concluded with a moment of silence “as each of us says our own personal goodbye” to the player they called ‘The King’.
Nicklaus, classy as ever, took off his hat and gave a brief look to the sky with a smile on his face before he took his opening tee shot of the 2017 Masters. It was as if to say, “this one’s for you “.
Gary Player took the opening drive as Arnold Palmer’s wife looked on with tears in her eyes no doubt. The scenes around the first tee box were very emotional today as the golfing world said a second and final goodbye to one of its true legends.
There was a definite sense of sadness when the people present realised that Mr.Palmer would never again make the world renowned trip down Magnolia Lane.