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FIT for a KING?
Michael Bamberger
April 21, 1997
Arnold Palmer had to play with hoi polloi, but he still got the royal treatment
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April 21, 1997

Fit For A King?

Arnold Palmer had to play with hoi polloi, but he still got the royal treatment

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Palmer's sensibility is rural, German-Scottish, pre-World War II, stolid. Green is suburban, Irish, postwar, clever. Except for the game they share, they could not be more different. But that's a considerable exception.

When Palmer approached the 18th green, making his little cupped-hand wave to his fans, Green got out of his way. When the round was over and the two men shook hands, Green said, "Thank you." His choice of words was perfect. Both men had improved from the previous day. Palmer shot 87, Green 74.

As he came out of the scorer's tent, a little group of reporters encircled Green, as they often do, for Green is always good for a quote. Green talked about how he had always idolized Palmer, how he didn't get drunk after his opening-round 87 because he didn't want to play hungover the next day with Palmer. He talked about Palmer's charisma, about how responsible Palmer is for the modern professional game. He talked about how you never know what a legendary player is like until you play with them. Arnold Palmer met, Ken Green said, his every expectation.

Two disparate men spent three hours together amicably. That doesn't mean either man was changed. As Green was heading toward the clubhouse after his round, his girlfriend asked him about his afternoon plans. "I'm going to go out on the course and follow f——— José [María Olazábal] around," Green said, balling up a fist. "Easy, Ken, easy," somebody said. Green looked at his girlfriend, and his face turned from anger to sorrow in the blink of an eye. His round with Arnold Palmer was over, and Green had to again face the rest of his life.

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