"The trouble is that I know I can still play as well as I have. I was playing the best golf of my life only last year. I can't have gone off that quickly, so it must be in the way I am thinking.
"Sure, there have been a lot of things besides golf to think about this week. It may make it a little harder to concentrate at times, but that isn't the whole trouble. I have hit the ball well at times, but I've made so many stupid shots that I wasn't thinking out properly. Like that chip I made at No. 8 today. I know the green falls away fast there, and still I didn't play the shot right. I want to get over that kind of thing."
Palmer drove home, had a cold beer out of the tap the Palmers keep in their rumpus room and went swimming. Toward dark he returned home, charcoaled a dozen steaks, and was in excellent spirits all evening. But as Winnie put it, "Inside I know he was deeply disappointed, though he didn't want to show it to me or anyone else. He may have been relieved, though. Now he has the time to get the rest he needs."
Arnold Palmer's final round, a 73 giving him 294 for the four days, could be of no consequence either to the tournament or his career. Only his pride was involved, the pride that would come from playing at least one truly fine round of golf during his special week. Palmer's hopes for the PGA championship and his opportunity to reverse the desultory trend of his golf this year died in a mind harried by distractions and obligations, for here is a man who takes his responsibilities as seriously as his golf.
There are those who will say that as Palmer approaches his 36th birthday, he is past his physical peak. This is not necessarily true of a top golfer, whose nervous system is likely to go before the muscles he needs for golf. This week Palmer seemed as fit and strong as he has been in the past half a dozen years of his supremacy. Poorly thought-out shots have been part of his trouble, probably because he was unable to concentrate over long spells. His many other interests—the Arnold Palmer golf clubs and shirts and slacks and balls and laundry and driving ranges and putting courses—always seem with him. (The way he has been expanding, everyone may soon be flying to the moon in an Arnold Palmer rocket and staying in an Arnold Palmer motel overlooking the Arnold Palmer crater.)
Putting has bothered him, too. For years he was the finest putter in golf, and during his wonderful winning streaks he made shots around the green that the other golfers could scarcely believe. Perhaps because of his inability to concentrate, he has been missing ever so slightly.
It is this mental adjustment to his present way of life that is the real key to Palmer's future. He must find a way to divide his attention between his golf and his business—the fruits of his success—that will not sacrifice either. If he can, he may recover his youthful optimism and confidence. Anybody who spends time with Arnold Palmer comes away believing that this magnetic and charming man can do anything. As so many people have said, he is touched with a kind of greatness. Arnie's Army feels it, and that is why it answers the muster. It is hard to believe that he will not regain the poise that abandoned him this year. The PGA demonstrated to Palmer that he must solve the problem now.