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<div style="text-decoration: underline; font-size: 20px; font-weight: bold; color: #666666; margin-bottom: 10px;">‘The King’ and I</div>Run-in with Palmer leaves an impression

One in a series during Arnold Palmer Invitational week

By Adam Schupak

My dad nearly killed Arnold Palmer. True story. We were at the Mercedes Championship at La Costa Resort in 1997 and late for the PGA Tour Awards dinner. That explains why my dad was running full tilt when he pancaked The King as they came around a corner of the hotel. My dad picked him up, dusted off and then his jaw dropped when he realized whom he had plowed over. Palmer still was seeing stars, as if he were in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. 

There was a funereal pall cast over the banquet room at the awards dinner when we arrived. It turned out that Palmer disclosed that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I've always thought we were lucky to be treated to nearly two more decades of golf's most magnetic figure.

My experience that week at La Costa, which included witnessing Tiger Woods stiff it to win the tournament in a playoff, inspired my career in the golf industry. A little more than a year later, I interviewed Palmer as a wide-eyed staffer at the World Golf Hall of Fame. I was 24 years old and still getting carded for R-rated movies.

Nerves flowing and palms a little sweaty, I began our conversation by apologizing for my father's Chuck Bednarik-like hit. Palmer remembered. How could he forget?

"That was your dad?" he said. "He nearly killed me. You tell him I haven't made a putt since."

And we both broke into laughter. It calmed my nerves, and every time I interviewed him thereafter he always asked about my dad. That was the Arnold Palmer I knew and loved.

Adam Schupak has written about golf since 1997 for the likes of Golfweek, Golf World and The New York Times. He is the author of Deane Beman: Golf's Driving Force. Email: golfsdrivingforce@gmail.com; Twitter: @adamschupak