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″It was hit the ball, drag Arnie” _ Arnold Palmer

April 12, 1997

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) _ Arnold Palmer played like a weekend hacker, but his fans wouldn’t have cared if he shot 100.

They just wanted to see The King walking the hills of Augusta National Golf Club.

They were just happy he had defeated cancer. They wanted to tell him so with applause on every green, every fairway, every tee.

Palmer, 67, tried to give them a show even though he was ``embarrassed″ by the way he hit the ball.

He ran halfway up the imposing hill on the 18th fairway.

The crowd broke into loud cheers and applause.

``I wanted to run all the way to the green, but I thought about that and decided not to do it,″ Palmer said. ``All day long it was hit the ball, drag Arnie ... hit the ball, drag Arnie.″

He figured his fans deserved something extra because of what he put them through for the second consecutive day. This time it was a 15-over-par 87 to go with his opening 89, the highest score he had ever made in the Masters.

``People accepted my poor play and I’m appreciative,″ Palmer said. ``It doesn’t change the fact that I’m embarrassed.″

Palmer said he might have to decide again whether he wants to continue playing in tournaments.

``I might take it private if I keep facing that kind of scoring,″ Palmer said. ``I won’t quit golf, but I’ll be careful where I use it.″

Playing partner Ken Green did what every fan wished they could do.

On the 15th fairway, Green dispatched a friend to a concession stand to buy a beer.

With beer in hand, Green approached Palmer and said, ``I always wanted to sit down and have a beer with you. This is for you.″

Green took a swig, and Palmer replied, ``I wish you had two.″

Palmer said later, ``I was a little surprised at that.″

Palmer was sipping on a beer himself at the clubhouse.

Asked if the beer was a toast to Green, Palmer quipped, ``This one is for Arnie.″

Palmer, who had prostate cancer surgery only three months ago, took another sip and admitted he was pooped.

``I was amazed I couldn’t get the strength to hit the golf ball,″ Palmer said. ``I wasn’t tired walking. I just couldn’t swing the club. Not being able to hit the golf ball is frustrating.″

But he’ll try again next week at the PGA Seniors.

``I’m beat down a little and I’ve been going too strong since the surgery, but I’ll play in the Seniors,″ Palmer said.

And another crack at the Masters next year?

``I hope to be back,″ he said. ``And I hope to be in better shape next time. ″

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