Emotion will be palpable next month when the Arnold Palmer Invitational takes place for the first time without its namesake’s presence.
To assist in filling the void left by one of the game’s legends, who died last September, a group of five – Graeme McDowell, Annika Sörenstam, Peter Jacobsen, Curtis Strange and former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, a longtime friend of Palmer’s – will serve as hosts. All four of the players involved have won a major championship on the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions or LPGA Tour.
The quintet will play many roles, including hosting pro-am parties and handing the trophy to the winner. There will also be a ceremony for Palmer on the Wednesday of tournament week.
“Arnold was a force of nature, on and off the course,” McDowell said. “We can’t fill his shoes but we can carry on his passion for helping others. I live with my family in Orlando and my children were born at Winnie Palmer Hospital, so I’ve been a direct beneficiary of Arnold’s charitable legacy. I’m honored to be part of such a remarkable event.”
The Arnold Palmer Invitational will be played March 16-19 at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla. Current world No. 1 Jason Day is expected to defend his title.