Palmer Watching Tiger with the Rest of Us

Article excerpt

Arnold Palmer registered his 62nd victory on the PGA Tour in the 473rd event he played. That came in 1973 at the Bob Hope Desert Classic, when he was on the downside of his Hall of Fame career.

Fast-forward to 2007. Tiger Woods wins the Tour Championship last week, the 61st of his career in just 230 events.

Woods got to 61 with a frighteningly efficient finish, winning five of his last six starts and finishing second in the other.

Palmer is well aware of where Woods is in the evolution of his career.

He knows that with Woods' next victory, he'll share the fourth all-time spot for victories on the PGA Tour with Palmer.

Palmer sat down Wednesday after competing in the annual Palmer Cup -- a daylong competition between Tri-State professionals and West Penn Golf Association amateurs at Latrobe Country Club -- to discuss Woods, his place among golf's hierarchy and what might be in store for him in the future.

Q: How do you feel with Tiger Woods being one win from tying you on the all-time list?

A: I think it's wonderful. Since I've known him as a professional, there was never a question in my mind that he would do what he's doing. He is a very, very hard-working, gentle person. I think he's very sensitive, very sincere, and I think he does his job very, very well.

Q: As hard as it is to compare eras, you know about dominant players. You played against him; you were one. Are you able to say he's the most dominant player who's ever played?

A: I wouldn't say that yet, but I think I will be able to say it if he continues to play the caliber of golf and maintain the stability he has had to this point. He's truly amazing with his ability to take and grip the situation and then handle it. That's what I've seen from him, and I think that's what will continue to be.

Q: Does he have the qualities of the other dominant players you played with and against?

A: Oh, absolutely. (Jack) Nicklaus and (Gary) Player and (Byron) Nelson, the guys who were really good, they fall into a class with him, or he falls into a class with them. He may even go further. At this point, he has done almost, maybe not surpassed, the man who sticks out in my mind in Nelson. He quit when he was 33. We'll see how Tiger does. He's still young, still very young, and it will be interesting to see how he continues on what I think he will, the character and the ability that he has shown for a few more years, then there's no question what his destiny will be, what his legacy will be. …