The press termed Arnold's blowup a milestone in his career. It was written everywhere that he was through as a dominant figure in the game, that Nicklaus was the king for sure and that the touring pros would never again be "afraid" of poor old Arnold. It was also said, very rightfully, that it would be interesting to watch Palmer for the rest of the year to see how he would react to this shocking loss.
Arnold did little worthy of watching until October, but then he made a trip to Australia and some things began to happen, though at first they did not attract much attention. He won the Australian Open by a big margin (five strokes) against a good field, lost a sudden-death playoff in the Dunlop International at Sydney and then went up to Tokyo to team with Nicklaus and win the Canada Cup.
In the airplane coming back from Japan there occurred one of those casual conversations that takes on a curious relevance later. Nicklaus was in a stretch drive with Casper for the 1966 official money-winner's title. Jack had figured out that if he could win the next tournament, the Houston Champions, he could beat out Casper. He said he felt good, and there was not any reason he shouldn't win at Houston, and that he was going to and would overtake Casper. Arnold smiled and nodded, but when Jack continued on the subject, Arnold finally said, "Listen, Jack, I just might beat you both at Houston."
As I said earlier, Arnold did win at Houston with that birdie putt on 18 (Nicklaus and Casper tied for 19th), and then Arnold and Jack paired up to win the PGA National Team Championship, as Arnold birdied the last three holes. This gave Palmer the biggest money-winning year in golf history (counting purses that the PGA lists as "unofficial"), a total of $I54,692. It also enabled him to end 1966 with great confidence in spite of the calamity at Olympic. He started 1967 by leading the Crosby with five holes to play before finishing third; he won at Los Angeles, played an indifferent Bob Hope Classic and then won at Tucson. This meant that since starting his trip to Australia he had six wins and a tie for first in nine events, a phenomenal performance under modern competitive conditions. As I look back, I cannot begin to count the number of times the doomsday prophets have announced that Palmer is through. But today, in my opinion, he is playing the finest golf of his career.
Arnold Palmer is one to remember, one of a kind. This is why the Army gathers every time he tees off; this is why it throngs after him, regardless of his score—and always will.