By listening carefully to Winnie, it was possible to get another view of the Palmer phenomenon. "Honestly," she said, in the midst of a round, "I don't see how Arn can get through the week. Everyone wants something from him. They want him to visit an air base or fly with him in their jet or be on a broadcast or try out a car. They want to crowd around him or they want to look after him and keep him from the crowds. But more than that, after all the excitement and emotion of last week, it's just awfully hard for him to get worked up for this tournament. You've got to let down after something like the British Open."
There cannot be the slightest doubt that Palmer's inability to charge himself up to a championship pitch for the second week in a row had its effect on the atmosphere of the PGA. He played what for him was mediocre golf, missing the fairways with his drives almost as often as he was hitting them, failing to show his customary authority as he played his shots to the greens, and not sinking the putts with which he so often has sent the galleries into a delirium.
For his own part, however. Palmer refused to make alibis. After finishing his second round with a respectable two-over-par 72. which left him in a tie for 13th, he was considerate enough to submit to an interrogation in the press tent—a ritual that is usually reserved for the day's hottest golfers. First, he confirmed what was obvious to anyone who noticed that the normal resilience was absent from his spine and legs as he toured the 18 holes: "I just didn't have it today. You expect to play bad rounds of golf, and the main thing is to get out of them without too much damage. I was lucky today to score as well as I did. Believe me, I was glad to settle for a 72, and it could have been a lot worse." What had truly saved Palmer's score that day was an electrifying eagle 3 on the long, par-5 16th hole. He reached the green in two with a couple of long woods and then sank a 25-foot putt that sent his army into an explosion of applause. As far as the gallery was concerned, the day was a success.
When his name was finally taken off the leaders' scoreboard on Saturday, Arnie's loyalists felt somehow cheated, even though the Palmer name had been left up there when many unlisted golfers were well ahead of him.
The PGA Championship proved beyond argument that, as Arnold Palmer goes, so goes the golf tournament. The gallery turns out to see him win, the sponsors and officials think of him first and the other golfers have him as much on their minds as if he were their putter. After finishing with a second-round 72 on Friday that kept him among the tournament leaders, Bob Goalby was heard to mutter, "I wonder what's with the hotshots"—meaning, of course, Palmer and Nicklaus.
In the dining room Dave Ragan was discussing the problems of the pro tour with a few newspapermen, suggesting that it might be a good idea to cut down on the number of tournaments. "Now let's see," he said. "How many tournaments did Palmer play in last year?"
Mike Souchak's wife, Nancy, while following her husband around, reached the inevitable subject. "Mike says Arnold really deserves everything he's got. He's behaved so well and worked so hard and remained so modest."
And finally Vivienne Player, Gary's wife, said to a reporter, while trailing her husband around the course: "Did you see Arnie play those last two rounds at the British Open? It must have been a wonderful experience."
She was talking about Arnold Palmer, even while her husband was winning the PGA Championship. But why not? So was everybody else at Aronimink Golf Club last week.