While Palmer was resting last week, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
asked some of his fellow professionals what changes they saw in his game and
whether they thought he could come back strong. Here are their comments:
DOUG FORD: It is Palmer's putting that is off. He is
used to putting so phenomenally that a little bad putting comes as a mental jar
to him. It seems to have affected him psychologically. Then, too, the
competition in the past two years is up 100%. There are more players able to
stick with him. But he has too solid a game to be off as badly as people are
thinking. It is just that he is in a mental slump and can't concentrate.
MIKE SOUCHAK: I'd have to believe that Arnie's whole
game has suffered some. His putting is not as good as it used to be. Other
things, too. But everybody who ever played has gone through what he's going
through. He'll snap out of it. Will he beat Nicklaus? I couldn't say. I don't
know when anybody will be able to beat Nicklaus.
TOMMY BOLT: I think he has lost a lot of his
BOB ROSBURG: His putting has been affected most. But
he has lost some of his distance, too. He doesn't seem to be catching the ball
solid any more. Will he win again? You bet he will.
BYRON NELSON: Nobody can stay hitched up and going all
the time. The body and mind won't stand it. When you are playing tournament
golf you can feel that tension point coming, but you can't help it. The golf
bug has been on Palmer's back no matter where he goes. So the tension keeps
building up, and the confidence drains away. The only answer is what Arnold is
TONY LEMA: I don't think he is in a slump. He played
some wonderful golf at Las Vegas. When Palmer's timing is perfect there is no
one who can hit the ball as well as he can, but that is something no golfer can
hold more than a short time. A lot of people have said that he is tired, and I
guess he has begun to believe it himself.
DOUG SANDERS: He doesn't seem to be able to
concentrate as well as he did in the past. I think he is involved in so many
outside interests that they are taking his mind away from the game. And
everyone has to relax. Each year you are a year older, and you have to relax a
JACK NICKLAUS: We both have our outside interests, but
neither of us really has to let them bother us. There is nothing wrong with
Arnold's golf. Pretty soon he will be back and playing well. He may win a
tournament right off. On the other hand, he may come close a lot and not win.
That happens. He won seven tournaments all last year, didn't he? And he has won
only three so far this year? Gee, that's a terrible slump, isn't it?