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    • Garnett torn on entry into Arnold Palmer Invitational

    • Brice Garnett was first alternate this week, and is in after Tiger Woods withdrew. (Gross/Getty Images)Brice Garnett was first alternate this week, and is in after Tiger Woods withdrew. (Gross/Getty Images)

    ORLANDO, Fla. - There are two things PGA TOUR rookie Brice Garnett has always wanted when it comes to golf: to play in Arnie’s event, the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard; and to play in a tournament with Tiger Woods. Well, as fate would have it, the Missouri native is in this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, just not with Tiger. He’s in it because of Tiger.

    When the eight-time and defending champion of the Arnold Palmer Invitational was forced to withdraw Tuesday afternoon with lingering back issues, Garnett, the first alternate, got the call.

    “I had just finished a practice round with Lucas Glover and Hudson Swafford, and was hitting balls on the range,” Garnett recalled. “Lucas came over to me and said ‘I’ve got some good news for you. Tiger’s out.’ I felt bad for Tiger, but was super-happy for me to have the chance to play in Mr. Palmer’s event.”

    Replacing Woods’ star-power will be impossible, but Garnett has the opportunity to make an impression on the golf world this week as he will be grouped with two-time TOUR winner Harris English and former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell for the first two rounds. Having made eight of nine cuts entering this week’s action, Garnett credits Woods for his inspiration to play professionally.

    “When Tiger was having his heyday in the early 2000s, it was right around the end of high school, beginning of college for me,” Garnett recalled. “I was trying to decide what to do in life. I really looked up to Tiger and loved watching him dominate. I’ve always wanted to play in a tournament with him.”

    Next time, perhaps. But for now, thank him.

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