For the first time since he started performing the duty in 2007, four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer won’t be hitting a ceremonial tee shot at Augusta National three weeks tomorrow.
However, the 86-year-old will still be on the first tee to watch the event’s other two honorary starters, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, “sweat it out and hit shots”.
“I spoke with Arnold yesterday and we certainly understand his decision,” said the Augusta National Golf Club chairman, Billy Payne, in a statement on Palmer, who played in 50 Masters during his career.
“It makes no difference whether he actually hits a drive. He is a true legend in golf and will be welcomed as usual on the first tee with the other Masters Honorary Starters. It will be a great day.”
Palmer, who is hosting his Invitational event on the PGA Tour at Bay Hill in Orlando this week, made the decision to skip hitting a shot due to the fact he is experiencing soreness in a shoulder that is preventing him from swinging a club.
Scottish duo Grant Forrest and Jack McDonald are in action for Europe this week against Asia-Pacific in the Bonallack Trophy.
The match starts today at Vidago Palace in Portugal, where Forrest and McDonald are hoping to repeat the winning feeling they enjoyed as part of the Great Britain & Ireland team in last year’s Walker Cup at Royal Lytham.
“We have a great team and it will be good to have that European spirit,” said Craigielaw’s Forrest. “Team events are fantastic and being part of winning Palmer and Walker Cup teams is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”
The Scottish duo started the 2016 campaign in Australia before moving on to South Africa and, more recently, Spain.
“I’ve been driving the ball well, but not capitalising on it,” said Scottish No 1 Forrest of his performances so far this season. “The putter has been a bit cold. too.
“I’m just being patient for it to all come together.”
Turnhouse-attached Duncan Stewart maintained his recent good form by sharing top spot in the latest CT Sports Academy Winter Series event at Fairmont St Andrews.
His two-under-par 70 on the Torrance Course was matched by Pollok’s James Hendricks, outright winner of the previous event at Ayr Belleisle.
As well as finishing second in the inaugural MENA Tour Qualifying School in Spain, Stewart has been to the fore in the East Alliance and the Big Johnsons Tour in recent weeks.
Tartan Tour No 1 Chris Kelly finished third on 71 while John Henry was a stroke further back in fourth.
Gareth Wright (West Linton) and Norman Huguet (Musselburgh) joined forces to win the PGA in Scotland Winter Series Fourball event at Dundonald Links with an impressive nine-under-par 63.
The East of Scotland duo carded an eagle at the fifth and eight birdies as they won by a shot from Graham Fox (Clydeway Golf) and Alan Reid (West Linton).