PGA Tour

SA charge ready to pay homage to Arnold Palmer

2017-03-15 19:29
Ernie Els (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Some of South Africa's star golfers are gearing up to pay homage to the late Arnold Palmer in the legend's annual Invitational at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge.

Arnold's presence will loom over Florida where his tournament will take place for the first time since his death.

Palmer passed away on 25 September last year. He was 87.

Defending champion and world No 2 Jason Day headlines the Invitational, along with world No 3 Rory McIlroy and reigning Open Championship winner Henrik Stenson.

While honouring Palmer by playing this week's event was a no-brainer for many professionals, some have raised eyebrows at the notable figures who have decided to give the tournament a miss.

World No 1 Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott will all be absent this week as they tailor their schedules towards next month's Masters at Augusta.

The fact that more than half of the world's top 25 won't tee it up in Florida has dismayed some - who argue that modern-day golf and the millions that flow into the sport - are directly attributable to Palmer's trailblazing career.

However, this week South Africa boasts a fine contingent in the field, which includes Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Retief Goosen.

2010 Open Championship winner Oosthuizen said he intended to play the tournament as often as possible in future.

"I just think it's a tournament that, if you can, you should play it every year," said the South African.

"And I'm going to try to do that from now on."

Immelman, who resides in Orlando, shared a snap of some SA golfer's visiting his home on Tuesday prior to the prestigious tournament.

The 2008 Masters champion also shared a Instagram post of the golfers receiving Palmer memorabilia, which contained a bottle of vodka, a glass and 'Arnie Army' coaster.

The PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational tees off on Thursday March 16.

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