The King is coming to Columbia.
Arnold Palmer will join a field that already includes nine of the top 10 money-winners on this year's Senior PGA Tour at the $1.25 million State Farm Senior Classic that begins Friday at Hobbit's Glen Golf Club.
Palmer, 68, had committed before Friday's deadline, but was not on the list sent earlier in the day to tournament officials. They received the news yesterday and were obviously delighted.
"It's the difference between hitting a home run and a grand slam," said executive director John Mathews.
Palmer will be returning to the area where he took the second of his 60 PGA Tour victories in a legendary career. It came at the 1956 Eastern Open, played at Mount Pleasant.
Struggling with his game for a number of years, he's coming off his best tournament of the season. He finished tied for 47th in the Cadillac NFL Golf Classic.
Palmer had rounds of 73, 71 and 71 on the 6,816-yard, par-72 course at Upper Montclair (N.J.) Country Club. Saturday's second round marked the first time this year he'd been under par.
"I've been playing so poorly," said Palmer, who has suggested he might not play competitively anymore if his performances don't improve. "[The last two rounds at Upper Montclair] were very encouraging. That will keep me going at least for another week or two."
Mathews said that tickets for the first-year event are still available at the gate and, with Palmer's appearance, projections of from 80,000 to 120,000 fans for the week will easily be reached.
"They were going well before today," Mathews said of ticket sales. "And now they should be even better."
What: State Farm PGA Senior Classic
Where: Hobbit's Glen Golf Club, 1130 Willow Bottom Road, Columbia
Tickets: $25 per day
Pub Date: 6/29/98