Return of Arnie

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

The King is looking forward to returning to his inaugural throne.

So says Doc Giffin, the long-time right-hand man for Arnold Palmer, the golfing legend who is heading to Toronto to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first of 62 PGA tour victories.

The recently remarried Palmer, 75, will be at Weston Golf and Country Club on Sept. 12 for the "Return of the King" event, 50 years after he won the Canadian Open at the same course.

"It's one of the last of the 50s celebrations," Giffin said yesterday after a news conference was held at Weston to announce details of the event. "We've done the 50th Masters, the 50th year on tour and now this is 50 years after the first win. The victory was so meaningful to him. It proved in his first year out there that he could win."

Palmer's four-day score of 265 at Weston was the lowest total among all his victories. With no major golf tournaments in the Greater Toronto Area this year, Arnie's return should generate plenty of buzz. He will play in a pro-am with amateur legend Marlene Streit -- the first Canadian inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame -- and hit the opening tee shot to launch the first Kings & Queens senior amateur championship. All proceeds go to the Greater Toronto Area Golf Association's Greens and Dreams charitable foundation.

"As you know, Canada holds a very special place in my heart," Palmer said in a taped message. "It will be a pleasure to return to the same course 50 (years) after the win ... I've had a lot of (accomplishments) in my career, but nothing duplicates that first victory."

Palmer's putter was stolen a few days after that first win. However, with help from a newspaper article and former Weston pro Gord De Laat, the putter was returned.

De Laat played in the '55 Canadian Open and has fond memories of Arnie's tourney.

"I watched him when he checked in and he looked to me like a player who had been on tour for years," De Laat, 89, said. "He was so confident and looked like he could go out and win every time."


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