Ahead of this year’s Arnold Palmer invitational, which is set to take place between 15-18th March, we take a look back at how the PGA tour honoured the great man at last year’s event. By Adam Stephens
How The PGA Tour Honoured Arnold Palmer At Bay Hill 2017
At Bay Hill last year the invitational competitors, led by Palmer’s grandson Sam Saunders and several significant people within the game of golf, were in attendance at the tournament’s opening ceremony.
This was the first year since the competition started in 1979 that it has taken place without Palmer being there following his death on the 25th September 2016.
According to Palmer, Bay Hill was a golfer’s paradise. He was so smitten with the course he raced home and told his wife Winnie, “Babe, I’ve just played the best course in Florida and I want to own it.”
Related: Arnold Palmer leaves $875m estate
For several years Palmer leased Bay Hill with an option to buy. Then in 1974, the course owners struck a deal to sell the property to another bidder.
Palmer appealed directly to the new buyer who agreed to sell Bay Hill back to him.
Within three years, the PGA-sanctioned Bay Hill Invitational was born and as a result of Palmer’s tinkering, today’s Bay Hill offers some of the toughest holes on the PGA Tour.
During the week of tournament last year, Sam Saunders said, “I think my grandfather’s legacy speaks for itself. He made a mark on this game that will probably never be equalled.”
Saunders continued on by saying, “I’ve been so personally touched by everyone that has come here…
“They’re playing because they know that my grandfather was able to give them a career, an opportunity to play golf for a living, and to give the media a chance to cover what we do.”
While 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, who has won Arnie’s event at Bay Hill eight times, on twitter during the week said this, “The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”
The players would go on to share their memories of the seven-time major winner in the press centre before heading to the driving range.
Accompanied with the national anthem and an emotional video on Palmer’s life, there was a moment silence as a large group of players stepped up to offer a tee-shot salute on the driving range to the great man.
Additional touching tributes were also offered to the King in the form of his golf bag being placed on the driving range nearby.
The Claret Jug trophy, which Palmer won twice in 1961 and 1962, was also left on display at Bay Hill in honour of the man.
The 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational won the PGA Tour’s ‘Best Special Event’ award as a result of celebrating the life and legacy of Mr Palmer.
“2017 was an extraordinary year for us,” Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament director Marci Doyle said.
“Our number one goal was celebrating Mr. Palmer’s ‘life and legacy’ and making sure whatever we did, we laid the groundwork for the tournament’s future success. Receiving recognition for that effort from the PGA TOUR is an incredible honour.”
Finally he was honoured amongst golf fans on twitter with use of the hastag #LifeWellPlayed.
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