March 15, 2016
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Arnold Palmer, 86, still plans on attending the Masters. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Arnold Palmer will not hit the ceremonial opening tee shot at this year’s Masters for the first time since 2004.
The 86-year-old four-time Masters winner still plans to attend the tournament as well as the Champions Dinner.
“I called the chairman, Billy Payne, and informed him that I have resigned from hitting the ceremonial first tee shot,” Palmer said Tuesday from Bay Hill. “He expressed regret that I couldn’t do that, but he was pleased that I would be present.
“Am I disappointed by that? Well, sure, but time moves on. I stopped playing in the Masters in 2004, I stopped playing in the Par-3 (Contest) last year, and now it’s time to end this part of my Masters career. I would love to go on doing it forever, but I don't have the physical capability to hit the shot the way I would want to hit it. So I’ll have to be content to watch.”
Palmer injured his shoulder in a fall at his home in December 2014.
He has been a part of the opening tee shot festivities since 2007 and was joined by Jack Nicklaus in 2010 and Gary Player in 2012.
“I spoke with Arnold (Monday) and we certainly understand his decision," Payne said in a statement. “It makes no difference whether he hits a drive. He is a true legend in golf and will be welcomed as usual on the first tee with the other Masters honorary starters. It will be a great day.”