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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
He awoke very early—4:50 a.m.—to keep his golf date. He had planned on a full eight hours sleep, having retired at 8:30 the night before, but he tossed and turned and was up pacing during the early hours as he always does before a round that means something. Ten minutes to 5. It was as early as he ever had to get up to play golf.
The temperature was in the 40s, and it was raining. He dressed while his wife fixed him a breakfast of grapefruit, soft-boiled eggs, bacon, whole-wheat toast and coffee. In an hour or so he would join Darrell Brown, his pilot, and Joe Tito, his beer-baron friend, for the drive—35 miles along U.S. 30—to the golf course. Tito would do the driving.
Uncle Francis would go, too. The others would pick him up at his home in Latrobe and go to the Youghiogheny Country Club in McKeesport. Uncle Francis wanted to watch, like Darrell and Joe, and to be near. When a man has to get up before dawn to qualify for his 17th straight U.S. Open, he ought to have friends by his side.
So Arnold Palmer's day began one dreary morning last week when, for the first time in 10 years, he was forced to participate in a sectional qualifier to gain a starting berth in the Open.
A player is automatically exempt from those qualifying tests, says the USGA, if he is:
1) An Open champion of the last five years.
2) A PGA champion of the last five years.
3) The current U.S. Amateur champion.
4) The current British Open champion.
5) Among the top 15 finishers in the previous Open.