Top 10 Shots
More than most golfers, Arnold Palmer has played an impressive number of great shots during his storied career. For the 10th anniversary of Kingdom, we recall 10 of the most memorable.
Arnold Palmer, the 1958 Masters champion, arrived on the 17th green at Augusta National during the final round two years later trailing Ken Venturi by one shot. Mr. Palmer, confronted with a 30-foot birdie putt across the undulating putting surface, took dead aim and calmly rolled his ball into the cup to draw level. A short while later, following another birdie up the 18th, the King was being helped into the second of his four green jackets.
1986 Chrysler Cup
Arnold Palmer gave the TPC at Avenel a spectacular baptism in its first big tournament, the 1986 Chrysler Cup, with back-to-back aces on the 239-yard par-3 3rd.
Double-eagle at Isleworth
Not every memorable shot is made down the stretch in a major championship. Sometimes a friendly match for a few dollars gives equal cause for delight, like the time Mr. Palmer made a double-eagle (albatross) on the 531-yard 7th hole at Isleworth to trump an eagle by Bill Damron.
1981 U.S. Senior Open
The climax of the 1981 U.S. Senior Open over the Donald Ross-designed South course at Oakland Hills was a three-way playoff between Mr. Palmer, Billy Casper and Bob Stone. After eight holes of the outward half, he was trailing both his adversaries; but he turned things round in his favor at the 213-yard par-3 9th with a glorious 1-iron that covered the flag all the way for the birdie that gave him the momentum to go on and claim the title.
1960 U.S. Open
Mr. Palmer took driver off the tee at the downhill, 313-yard 1st hole at Cherry Hills in all four rounds of the 1960 U.S. Open. With his final attempt, he flushed his drive and momentarily feared he had gone through the green. But his ball landed in a collar of rough that softened the bounce and two putts later he had begun one of the most famous rounds in major-championship history with a birdie-3. A further five birdies over the next six holes set up a closing 65 and enabled Mr. Palmer to make up a seven-shot deficit and claim the only U.S. Open crown of his illustrious career.
1961 Open Championship
In his second [British] Open, over the links of Birkdale in northwest England, Mr. Palmer drove into a blackberry bush just right of the fairway on the par-4 15th hole during the last round. Most players would have taken their medicine and chipped out sideways, but that has rarely been the Palmer way. Taking a 6-iron, he smashed his ball 150 yards up on to the deeply-bunkered plateau green for a two-putt par. “As it turned out it was the right thing to do because Dai Rees eagled the last hole. I still had to birdie the last to win by one shot,” Mr. Palmer, pictured standing by a plaque commemorating his shot, reflected.
1968 PGA Championship
On the final hole of the 1968 PGA Championship at Pecan Valley in San Antonio, Texas, Mr. Palmer struck a 3-wood out of heavy rough to within eight feet of the cup. Needing a birdie to force a playoff with 48-year-old Julius Boros, his putt slid agonisingly past the hole and he had to settle for one of his second places in the major he never won.
1964 Carling World Open
Another marvelous shot that narrowly failed to yield a victory was a 6-iron from an awkward lie that hit the pin on the 18th green in the final round of the 1964 Carling World Open at Oakland Hills. Had it dropped, Mr. Palmer would have tied Bobby Nichols and forced a playoff.
1954 U.S. Amateur Championship
The highlight of Mr. Palmer’s first truly significant triumph was a delicate chip to the 18th green at the Country Club of Detroit. With the putting surface sloping treacherously away from him, he feathered his ball to within a few feet of the hole to extend his semi-final match against Ed Meister which he won on the third extra hole.
Awaiting the outcome of a ruling over the drop he took after his ball had plugged beside the 12th green during the final round, Mr. Palmer fashioned a majestic 3-wood into the heart of the 13th green to set up an eagle-3 and pave the way for the first of his four Masters victories.