The Augusta National Chairman delivered a heartfelt and emotional tribute to Arnold Palmer ahead of the 2017 Masters

Billy Payne Pays Touching Tribute To Arnold Palmer

Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne paid an emotional tribute to Arnold Palmer at his pre-US Masters press conference as he declared the 2017 tournament “a celebration of his life.”

He stated his intention to “summon Arnie’s army” and revealed that all patrons on the ground would be handed a special Arnold Palmer badge.

Payne first met Palmer before he became a member of Augusta National and described The King as having “a profound impact on my life.”

“For the first time in over 60 years, our sport is without its preeminent hero; a man whose greatness as player and a champion was exceeded only by his qualities as a man,” Payne said.

“Arnold Palmer let us all into his life; not from the distance that is typically maintained between a superstar and a fan, but into his life, close‑up, so that we could literally push him to greatness and regale in his accomplishments as though they were our own.

“During his extraordinary life, Arnold Palmer and Augusta National connected in so many wonderful ways.  His four victories, the Arnold Palmer Tribute Monument on the 16th tee, his annual participation in our Honorary Starter ceremony, even his membership into our club, all of them, outward displays of our love and affection for this very special man.

“And as this week continues, we should and will do more to honour his immeasurable contributions to our club and this tournament, and to this great sport.”

During his esteemed career, Palmer competed in 50 Masters Tournaments, recording four victories and eight other top-ten finishes.

Payne also revealed that Augusta National had, on behalf of its members and patrons, made a significant contribution to the Arnold Palmer Charitable Foundation.

“I’m not sure I ever met a man who was more giving. Tomorrow will no doubt be an emotional goodbye, but at the same time it will be an even more powerful thank you to the man we dearly love,” Payne concluded.

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