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Arnold Palmer to Launch 2007 Masters Thursday
April 03, 2007
The question that has been posed to Arnold Palmer ever since and even before he played in his final Masters Tournament in 2004 -- Will you become the Honorary Starter? -- has been answered. Billy Payne, the new Chairman of the Masters and Augusta National Golf Club, announced Tuesday at a specially-arranged press conference that Palmer, a four-time winner of the prestigious tournament and an Augusta National member, will hit the opening shot of this year's event Thursday morning. A massive turnout is expected to witness the historic occasion. The announcement preceded Palmer's annual attendance at the Champions Dinner at Augusta National Tuesday evening.
Palmer will be just the sixth person to serve as Honorary Starter in the long history of the Masters, which began in 1934. Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod inaugurated the role in 1963. Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen took over in 1981 and Ken Venturi filled in for Nelson in 1983. Sam Snead joined Nelson and Sarazen in 1984. The position has been vacant since Snead died following the 2002 Masters.
"The time was right to make this decision," said Palmer, who played in 50 consecutive Masters from 1955 through 2004. "As you know, Augusta is one of my favorite places and the Masters has meant so much to me personally throughout my career. I have always been treated so warmly there by the patrons. I hope in some way I can show my gratitude to the fans who have followed and supported me these many years."
"We are absolutely delighted that Arnold has accepted our invitation to become an Honorary Starter," enthused Payne in making the announcement at the Media Center. "This is wonderful news for the Masters and his legions of fans."
Posted by dgiffin at April 3, 2007 03:22 PM