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The Tour Report

March 20 2013

11:45 AM

Arnie on Tiger, Rory, Bubba, more

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Arnold Palmer's annual Wednesday press conference at Bay Hill is always one of the real treats of the week here. Once again, Palmer delivered a gem.

At 83 years old, Palmer is still as sharp as a tack, whether it's talking about whether or not he thinks Tiger Woods, who has won here seven times, will break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 career major championships, or sharing his opinion on anchoring and bifurcation.

Palmer also talked about Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and a number of other topics. Here is a closer look at what he had to say:

On whether he tried to talk McIlroy into playing here this year:

"I was kind of kidding when somebody said is he playing? And I said, well, if he doesn't, I'm going to break his arm. But it was meant in jest, and it was strictly a passing remark. Frankly, I thought he was going to play, and I was as surprised as a lot of people when he decided he was not going to play. I've had conversations, brief conversations with him some time ago, not recently, about his playing.

On how much of himself he sees in Bubba Watson:

"What I've seen of him is he's long, and a lot of the time it doesn't have a zip code on it. It looks like he's enjoying himself, and I think that's ‑‑ if there is something similar, that may be it. Someone said something about the shot that he hit at 10 that afforded him the opportunity to win the Masters. That's one of the things that I did a little bit from here to there. A lot of people didn't know who I was, because they never saw me. I was in the trees."

On the TOUR's opposition to the proposed ban on anchored putting; the idea of two sets of rules:

"One, I don't think that golf has a place for two sets of rules. I think one of the reasons that the game has progressed in the way that it has over the years is the fact that the amateurs and the pros all play the same game and they play under the same set of rules. I feel like that is very, very important. It may be the key to the future success of the game of golf, just the fact that there will be one set of rules and we'll all play by them.

"Now the long putter, I've objected to that from the beginning. I only think that we don't need a long putter. That's not part of the game of golf. To attach it to your body in any way is taking a little bit away from the game."

On whether he thinks Woods will still break Nicklaus' record of 18 career majors:

"I think right now looking at him and watching him play, he looks probably as strong and as good from a golf perspective as I've ever seen him. I think his swing and his posture and his attitude is far better than it's been in some time, and it takes me back to when I first played with him at Augusta when he was a rookie. I give him a chance. I suppose that every year it's a little more fleeting, however, and he'll have to really work hard to keep himself up and keep his mental attitude if he's going to do it."

On the loudest cheer he's ever heard on a golf course:

"Well, geez. It was probably on 16th hole at Augusta when Jimmy Demaret and I forgot who the other announcer was, was in back of the 16th green and they were talking about the shot that I had. This is '62, and Demaret was saying he's got an ‑‑ I could hear it -- he said, 'He's got an impossible shot here, and to get it up‑and‑down will be a small miracle.' I'm listening to him saying all of this and then I chipped it in, and that was a loud cheer."