Arnold Palmer recounted Wednesday how he became emotional when he was surprisingly gifted a piece of the fallen Eisenhower Tree during the annual Masters Champions Dinner the night prior.
Palmer said the gift sparked reflection on an incredible life in the game.
“That made me sort of reminisce a little bit about the years and how the Masters has changed and how the young people should really take a look at themselves, as well as the golf tournament and the Masters tournament and realize how fortunate they are,” Palmer said on Golf Channel.
The Eisenhower Tree, which stood to the left side of the fairway on the 17th hole, was taken down in 2014 after an ice storm damaged it. Masters chairman Billy Payne said Wednesday that a piece of the tree will be given to the National Archives.
After the ceremony, the four-time Masters winner then told some stories from his more than half-century as a player in the tournament. Several other players spoke after Palmer, rekindling an aspect of the annual meal that had been lost in recent years.
“The conversations had been pretty stilted over the years, and nobody had been willing to speak up, for whatever reason,” said Tom Watson on Wednesday. “There was a tradition of conversation that was kind of lost until last night, when people got up and spoke.
“I think it was wonderful for the younger players to see that, to hear the stories from the older players. That’s the way you pass down history and lore, by word of mouth, the old-fashioned way. Not by using your cell phone or going to Google.”
As for Palmer, he confirmed he’ll take his place on Thursday morning alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player for the ceremonial tee shot.
He said on Golf Channel, “You’re damn right I’m going to tee it up.”