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April 04, 2012

Arnold Palmer's string of consecutive playing appearances in the Masters Tournament ended at 50 when he competed for a final time in the 2004 championship, but Arnold Palmer flew into Augusta, Georgia, again yesterday, a stop he has made every year since 1955.

As he did last year, Palmer attended the Champions Dinner Tuesday in the historic Augusta National clubhouse. Charl Schwartzel, the defending champion, hosted the dinner, at which virtually all of the living former winners of the classic event, playing or non-playing, gathered.

Palmer serves as an Honorary Starter on Thursday, April 5, with his long-time rivals and friends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, each hitting tee shots at 7:40 a.m. ET on the first tee to launch the 2012 Masters.

In a seven-year stretch from 1960-1966, only Player, Palmer and Nicklaus won the Masters: three by Palmer, three by Nicklaus and one victory by Player.

Palmer is 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 was vacant since Snead died following the 2002 Masters until the 2007 event when Palmer assumed the role for the first time.

"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” said Palmer.

Visit www.masters.com for information.

Posted by scurry at April 4, 2012 10:35 AM

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