Friday, May 03, 2002

Kroger Classic gets a boost as Palmer commits

By Michael Perry,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Arnie's Army can gather in Greater Cincinnati again. Perhaps for the last time.

        Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer has committed to playing in the Kroger Senior Classic in September for the first time since 1997, tournament director Margie French said Thursday.

        It will be the sixth time Palmer has entered the Senior PGA Tour event since it started in 1990.

        The Kroger is moving this year to the TPC at River's Bend, a course designed by Palmer.

        “Mr. Palmer is going to come,” French said. “We've got the official commitment from the (Senior PGA) Tour office, and we want the whole world to know about it.”

        Doc Giffin, personal assistant to Palmer, said the Kroger is Palmer's first commitment to a regular event since recently announcing at his final Masters appearance that he would commit to the Senior PGA Championship and the U.S. Senior Open only “if he could get his game working.”

        Palmer decided to play the Kroger because he designed the TPC course and because of his longtime friendships in Cincinnati, Giffin said.

        Palmer, 72, has played in only one senior event in 2002: the Verizon Classic in Lutz, Fla.

        Although he is no longer a legitimate contender in tournaments — Palmer has not finished in the top 10 of a Senior PGA Tour event since 1993 — his presence alone adds to the Kroger field.

        “He is the king,” French said. “There is such a charisma about this gentleman. There will be crowds out there like nobody's business.”

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