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April 19, 2010
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April 19, 2010

The Vault

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Every SI Story ... Every SI Photo ... Ever SI.COM/VAULT

EXCERPT | April 20, 1964

King of Augusta

Arnold Palmer won a record fourth, and final, Masters

En route to a dominating Masters victory, Palmer put down a second-round insurrection led by Chi Chi Rodriguez. Alfred Wright reported for SI.

Friday was Arnold Palmer's. He played against an alien army, he played against Chi Chi Rodriguez, he played against the field—and he vanquished them all with ease. Something special goes on between Palmer and the Masters. It is a kind of love affair. He regards it with a reverence that he offers no other tournament, and its galleries regard him, in turn, as a chosen son. Now came tiny Chi Chi with a lively little guerrilla army that called itself Bandidos and his own hat-waving, jig-dancing, bowing, irreverent ways.

Palmer was hitting brilliant iron shots at the pin, just as he had the day before, and he made the turn in an effortless 35. But Rodriguez stuck right with him. Not only that, Chi Chi was outdriving Palmer and taking deep bows or doffing his hat in mock salute every time the gallery gave him—or Arnie—a cheer. His behavior seemed to get to Arnie. The dignity of the Masters was being trifled with, and Palmer began to look more purposeful with every step.

Finally, at the par-5 13th, the break came. Arnie outdrove Chi Chi by about a yard, but both had clear shots over the water and to the green. Chi Chi hit a beautiful three-wood onto the green and bowed deeply to the gallery. You could feel Palmer burn. He took a one-iron out of his bag (get that, Chi Chi: an iron, not a wood) and hit a truly memorable shot. It landed within a foot of the flagstick and ran five feet past. It was a magnificent, deadly, "take that" stroke. Chi Chi was done. The cards were on the table, and he had been called.

Palmer, age 34, won by six strokes. It was his final major victory.

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