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Arnold Palmer won in 1961 and changed the game forever!

Arnold Palmer won in 1961 and changed the game forever!

Arnold Palmer won in 1961 and changed the game forever!

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Arnold Palmer won the hearts of the Scots and captured the world’s imagination when he first played at St. Andrews in 1960 in atrocious weather.  

Palmer finished runner up to Kel Nagle, yet returned the next year to play the British Open at Royal Birkdale, and won it!

Arnold Palmer won in 1961 and changed the game forever!

4 friends complete a round at the Old Course, knowing they have just played where Old and Young Tom Morris, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods have all tasted victory!

Arnold Palmer never won the Open at St. Andrews, but his appearance in 1960 changed the game forever.

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Arnold Palmer didn’t save the British Open when he played at St. Andrews in the 1960 championship, but like wearing cardigans and mixing iced tea with your lemonade he made it something cool for Americans to do.

Before Palmer came over to play in 1960, the British Open had fallen off the radar of American professional golf. Just a year before, at Muirfield in 1959, no American golf pros were in the field. Their reasons were simple: It was far away and it wasn’t that profitable, even if you won (the purse was $1,250 versus the U.S. Open’s $14,400).

More than that though, American golf pros didn’t see any reason to look outside their own borders. The best players and the biggest purses were in America. During this time, the top U.S. golf pros regularly bludgeoned their Great Britain and Ireland counterparts in the Ryder Cup. (Those were the days!) What was the point in traveling across the Atlantic to play unfamiliar links courses with their tricky bounces and puzzling winds?

Fortunately, Palmer had more imagination than his fellow American pros. He remembered how as a boy he read about Americans like Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen winning the British Open, and he saw winning one as important to his career. Palmer recalled his visit in 1960 when speaking to reporters at the British Open on Wednesday. Palmer was in town to celebrate the venerable tournament’s 150th anniversary, just like he helped it celebrate its 100th anniversary.

“It was exciting for me because I was trying to fulfill a desire that I had to play in the Open Championship, and I felt that if you were going to be a champion, you couldn’t be a champion without playing in the Open and hopefully winning the Open,” Palmer said Wednesday.

He didn’t win that British Open, finishing second to Australian Kel Nagle. Still, the 1960 Open was a special one for Palmer, and on Wednesday he described a Proustian* moment he had that morning when he was transported back to that time.

(*An especially vivid recollection of an event from the distant past, brought about by food.)

“Looking out the window of Rusacks [Hotel] and looking at the golf course and all the people this morning and having breakfast and relaxing and enjoying it, I saw all the things I saw and thought about in 1960,” Palmer said. “I suppose most of the week when I came here the first time, I didn’t understand well enough to respect the kind of golf I was going to have to play to do good at the Open Championship. It took me a while to begin to understand what this golf course and what European golf and what the links golf was really all about. So it was quite a thrill.”

To read the rest of this story by Mike Walker go here.

Source: Mike Walker

Pictures: Ricky  Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Thanks for reading – Arnold Palmer won in 1961 and changed the game forever!

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