Arnold Palmer resigns from hitting ceremonial tee shot at Masters

Arnold Palmer won’t take a ceremonial tee shot at the Masters next month.

The 86-year-old four-time champion at Augusta National and seven-time major winner, who has not been able to swing a club of late, informed club chairman Billy Payne of his decision Monday.

“I called (Payne), and informed him that I have resigned from hitting the ceremonial first tee shot,” Palmer said, according to ESPN’s Jason Sobel. “I am going to attend the Champions Dinner and then go home on Thursday, which has been my usual schedule the last few years. I plan to go out to the first tee with the chairman on Thursday morning and watch Jack (Nicklaus) and Gary (Player) sweat it out and hit the shots.

“Am I disappointed by that? Well, sure, but time moves on. I stopped playing in the Masters in 2007, I stopped playing in the Par-3 (Contest) last year, and now it’s time to end this part of my Masters career. I would love to go on doing it forever, but I don’t have the physical capability to hit the shot the way I would want to hit it. So I’ll have to be content to watch.”

Payne said Palmer’s presence on the first tee will remain special, according to Golf World’s Tim Rosaforte, via Golf Digest.

“I spoke with Arnold yesterday and we certainly understand his decision,” Payne said.

“It makes no difference whether he hits a drive. He is a true legend in golf and will be welcomed as usual on the first tee with the other Masters honorary starters. It will be a great day.”

Palmer has been a part of the ceremony since 2007.

Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will strike a ball on the first tee as part of the honorary group on April 7.

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