OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) — Arnold Palmer made it to the Masters in April and watched Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit honorary tee shots.
That won’t be the case for the U.S. Open. His longtime press secretary said the 86-year-old Palmer was unable to travel to Oakmont.
“Arnold has had some serious mobility problems and has decided that it was going to be a bit too difficult for him to get down here this week,” Doc Giffin said Wednesday. “So he’s going to be watching and rooting and paying close attention to the tournament.”
Palmer grew up nearby at Latrobe, and Oakmont is considered his home course for the majors. He had two close calls at Oakmont, losing to Nicklaus in a playoff in 1962 and dropping shots on the back nine in 1973 as Johnny Miller was making his record-breaking charge on his way to a 63. Palmer finished three behind.
He chose to end his U.S. Open career at Oakmont in 1994, a poignant moment on the 18th green and in the press room.
The USGA paid tribute Wednesday to Giffin, presenting him with a painting of Latrobe Country Club.
Giffin was a sports writer who joined the PGA Tour as a press secretary and then went to work for Palmer. His first U.S. Open was at Oakmont in 1962.
“I’m most appreciative of this recognition,” Giffin said. “I know Arnold will be pleased.”