Arnold Palmer grew up in Latrobe, Pa., just an hour's drive from Heinz Field, in a state where everyone west of the Philly suburbs bleeds black and gold. So why does he have mixed feelings about picking the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Arizona Cardinals in next week's Super Bowl? Well, Arizona Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt is an ex-Steeler assistant, a serious golfer and a certified Friend of Arnie.
"Both football games I had a very keen interest in," Palmer said at a media conference Tuesday for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, which he's hosting in Palm Springs this week. "One, the Steelers have been a team that I have rooted for since I knew what a football was; and the other thing is that Arizona, who happens to have a coach that is a very good friend of mine, and also a scratch player, golfer, you didn't know that, he is a very good player."
However, friendship is one thing and football is another. Palmer's Super Bowl pick: Steelers 28, Cardinals 14.
Palmer also talked about the possibility of Tiger Woods making his return to the PGA Tour at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 25 at Bay Hill in Orlando, the smart-money choice since it's near Woods's home and would give him a competitive tune up before the Masters two weeks later.
"What would it mean if he came and played at Bay Hill to defend it?" Palmer said. "It would mean a great deal if that was his first event back, which is certainly, let's say, possible. We would love to have him do that. And it would call attention to my tournament and the fact that he is the defending champion."
Not that Palmer has any inside information. Since Woods himself has said he doesn't know when his knee will allow him to return, no one else does either.
"I think that the most recent situation is that he will come and he will be back, and what tournament he chooses, who knows. I don't know," Palmer said.