The King is back at the Masters as an honorary starter

April 3, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Arnold Palmer will tee it up in the Masters again, but only for one ceremonial swing.

The four-time Masters champion, who played for the 50th and final time three years ago, will hit the opening tee shot Thursday and become the seventh honorary starter in tournament history.

Palmer, wearing his green member's jacket, said the time has come for him to perform the task.

He was cool to the idea of being an honorary starter when he stopped playing the Masters in 2004, but dropped hints last month at Bay Hill that he would seriously consider it under new chairman Billy Payne.

Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod were the first honorary starters in 1963. Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen started doing it in 1981, with Ken Venturi filling in for Nelson for one year in 1983. Sam Snead joined Nelson and Sarazen in 1984.

Snead in 2002 was the last honorary starter. He died a month later.

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