"How are you doing?" he said. "Why are you moving back?"
"Oh, I'm staying away," she said. "The photographers. You know."
"Well, they won't hurt you, not in that pretty red coat," he said. Palmer squeezed his wife in a hug and walked several yards with her down the fairway.
"You know," Winnie had said earlier, after thinking about all the Masters, Opens and British Opens she has followed all these years, "this is a good spectator course. Hilly, and the walking is difficult, but you can see a lot. It's just that having to be here is such a nuisance. Arnold was so annoyed at himself for not playing well enough in Dallas."
When he had holed his last putt and had waded through autograph hunters for half an hour, Palmer showered, granted several TV interviews and then met the press in a side dining room off the Youghiogheny clubhouse. He spoke of what was on everyone's mind.
"I can't really object to qualifying," Palmer said. "If the ruling body says this is the right way, who am I to protest? These are the rules. If I was running the USGA and you asked me if I would make a man of my position qualify, I'd say no. But if qualifying is the desire of the officials, I must abide by it."
The last man to qualify for and win the U.S. Open in the same year was Ken Venturi in 1964. A year before, Julius Boros, a former champion, had to qualify and then he won it again. On the other hand, Ben Hogan, after he was no longer automatically exempt every year, refused to enter the sectional qualifiers.
Palmer graciously passed over the controversy—or did he? A lot of people were asking each other: Should Arnold Palmer have been forced to qualify?
"No, he shouldn't have played here," said Palmer's 18-year-old caddie, David Kutchak. "Let them exempt Open champions, but if they don't want to do that, exempt Palmer anyway. He's the biggest guy in the game. He made golf what it is. He's a legend."
A few friends were still around, but most of the crowd had departed, when their man—and Winnie—got into Joe Tito's blue Buick. Back in Latrobe the girls would be waiting to find out if they would get their trip to Houston and the Open. Arnold and Winnie would relax, eat a nice dinner and talk about the day. Shortly, Arnold Palmer would go to bed early. Even a legend has to get his sleep.