- The Augusta Chronicle - Sunday, April 6, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. — When Arnold Palmer reached the 18th tee in the final round of the 1964 Masters Tournament, he turned to playing partner Dave Marr and asked a simple question.

“Is there anything I can do to help you?” remembers Palmer, who had his fourth Masters victory firmly in his grip. “We were very close (friends), and he said, ‘Yeah, you can make 12.’ That was kind of funny.”

Palmer didn’t make 12 — he actually made birdie — and won by six strokes over Marr and Jack Nicklaus.

No one would have predicted it would be Palmer’s final victory in a major championship.

After a meteoric run through golf’s biggest events — including four wins at Augusta in a seven-year span — Palmer’s number of major championships would end with seven.

Arnold Palmer swings his putter like a baseball bat after he rolled in a birdie putt on 18 for a 2 under par 70 for a total of 276 and an unprecedented fourth Masters Victory in Augusta, Ga. April 12, 1964. (AP Photo)
Arnold Palmer swings his putter like a baseball bat after he rolled ... more >

Palmer was still golf’s main attraction, and he would continue to win regularly on the PGA Tour for nearly another decade. But Arnie’s Army would never celebrate another major title.

EVEN WITH NICKLAUS as the defending champion, Palmer came into the 1964 Masters as the co-favorite despite a mini-slump. He had not won in six months, and he didn’t win any majors the previous year. He was in the prime of his career, at age 34, and sports writers saw no reason for him to not continue his mastery of Augusta National.

Palmer earned a share of the first-round lead with 69, and he took the lead for good with 68 in the second round.

A 69 in the third round gave him a five-shot lead going into the final round, and it also gave him a shot at making history.

Palmer was in reach of Ben Hogan’s then 72-hole record of 274 and had a shot at becoming the first player to score all four rounds in the 60s.

He toured the front nine in 1-under 35 and headed to the second nine comfortably ahead. Bo­geys at Nos. 10 and 17 were offset by birdies at 14 and 15, and he came to the final hole six shots clear of the field.

A birdie on the final hole capped a round of 70, but Palmer’s bid for the scoring records came up short. Still, he was the Masters’ first four-time champion.

“This is the most singularly exciting tournament for me ever,” Palmer said after slipping on his green jacket. “For once in my life, I planned to do something and did what I wanted.”

After nail-biting drama in his first three wins at Augusta, Palmer enjoyed a relaxing walk up the final hole.

“Well, of course you never think you’re going to be at your last stop, but it was great,” he said recently on a conference call to promote the upcoming Golf Channel series Arnie. “I suppose that psychologically I had accomplished maybe more than I even realized by winning the Masters and walking up the 18th hole comfortably.

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