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MASTERS NOTES

Army Gives Arnie One Last Salute

April 14, 2002|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Arnold Palmer finished his long goodbye to an appreciative gallery and a standing ovation Saturday morning as he walked up the 18th fairway before completing his rain-delayed 147th and final round at the Masters.

Wearing a pink shirt and blue slacks, Palmer fought back tears, smiled and waved, gave a thumbs-up and even took a bow, but he was not alone with his thoughts.

"The tournaments that I won. Some I lost. And certainly, as all of you know, there were both sides of it," he said.

Palmer, 72, played his last two holes in his last round at Augusta National with a bogey and double bogey and signed for an 85. He shot an 89 in the first round. Palmer's 36-hole total of 174 was 30 over par, but two shots better than his worst two-round total of 176 in 1997.

With Palmer, his score is irrelevant. Robert Hamilton, 24, the U.S. Amateur runner-up from Berkeley, played both rounds with Palmer, as did Toru Taniguchi of Japan.

Palmer signed Hamilton's cap on the 18th green.

"I tried to soak up as much as I could," Hamilton said. "This is a great moment in my life, a story for my grandchildren--where I was when Arnold Palmer walked up 18 at the Masters. I got goose bumps."

Taniguchi said he was honored to play with Palmer.

"I was surprised to see so many people watching every move he makes, and the cheering," he said.

It was the first Masters for Hamilton and Taniguchi. It was the 48th for Palmer, a four-time champion.

Palmer has now said goodbye to each of the four majors. His last U.S. Open was in 1994 at Oakmont Country Club, near where he grew up in suburban Pittsburgh. Palmer's last PGA Championship was also in 1994, at Southern Hills, and he played his last British Open in 1995 at St. Andrews.

Palmer, who said he hasn't made up his mind about joining Sam Snead as an honorary starter at next year's Masters, doesn't know what will happen to Arnie's Army.

"Well, I'm not sure, but I think from all indications, it will just continue as it has," he said. "You know, I have thousands of people writing me all the time about it, appointing themselves to various positions. Colonels, some of them are privates who think they are generals."

*

Chris Perry must have wanted to see Palmer complete his last round at the Masters.

Perry missed the cut Friday in the Buy.com tour event in Lafayette, La., then drove 12 hours to catch Palmer's exit, taking a quick nap at a rest stop on his way.

*

He had two holes to make up in the morning to complete his second round and make the cut, so Nick Faldo parred both holes and got in by two shots.

"That was the legendary Faldo concentration," he said after finally finishing his five-under 67.

As an unusual added attraction, both of Faldo's playing partners, Hal Sutton and Frank Lickliter, dropped out because of injury. Faldo completed his second round Saturday with a marker, John Harris.

Said Faldo: "Don't touch me ... something might happen."

Faldo bogeyed the last two holes in his third round of 73 and is at one-under 215.

*

It was time to say goodbye to David Duval, one of the pre-tournament favorites, who had rounds of 74-74--148 and missed the cut by a shot.

Duval, who played the last six holes in three over, said the conditions were difficult because it was so wet. He was asked if he had a solution.

"Carry a mat with you?"

*

Ernie Els bogeyed the 18th to drop into a three-way tie for fourth at seven under, four shots behind leaders Tiger Woods and Retief Goosen, and he wasn't pleased with the outcome. After three holes, Els was only one shot out of the lead.

"I'm disappointed, but I'm not out of it," he said. "I just didn't hit the shots at the right time.

"Tiger is at 11 [under] and I don't see him backing up."

*

Padraig Harrington had an even worse finish. He double-bogeyed the 18th when he drove left into the trees, hit a four-iron out and chipped over the green.

"Every shot you take, you have to be aware of the dangers," Harrington said after 72 left him at five under, tied for eighth with Thomas Bjorn, who had a 70.

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

*

Palmer at the Masters

Wins: 4, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964

Top 5 finishes: 9

Top 10 finishes: 12

Number of attempts before third victory: Eight, tied with Jack Nicklaus, after first try in 1955

Most consecutive starts: 48, 1955-2002

Most frequent leader in tournament history (led or tied): 14 times (three at 18 holes, six at 36 holes, five at 54 holes)

Most consecutive under-par rounds: 7, fourth round in 1963 through second round in 1965

Other highlights:

* One of four wire-to-wire champions

* One of two champions who birdied 17 and 18 to win the Masters

* No hole score higher than four, same round, 1965, first round (16 fours)

* One of 20 players who have shot all four rounds in 70 or under

(1964--69-68-69-70, winner)

* Oldest four-time winner (34 years, 7 months)

* Oldest to score 76 for 18 holes (2001, age 71)

* Oldest to score 158 for 36 holes (2001, 82-76, age 71)

* 146 total Masters rounds

* Shot 85 in his closing round Saturday, making it 19 years since he has made the cut.

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