By Dan Hauser
With the passing of Arnold Palmer, everyone knew there would be some rather large shoes to fill in terms of who would play tournament host of the 2017 edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Turns out The King’s shoes won’t be filled by a single person, but by four of golf’s most recognizable players.
Peter Jacobson, Graeme McDowell, Annika Sorenstam, and Curtis Strange will join Palmer family friend and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge as this year’s hosts at Bay Hill.
“Arnold was a force of nature, on and off the course,” said McDowell. “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 five will step into the traditional hosting roles that Arnie took to heart for years, including greeting players and guests, hosting Pro-Am parties, and helping with the presentation of the championship trophy on Sunday. They will also take part in new events planned to honor Palmer’s legacy on the Wednesday of tournament week as a way to mark the start of the tournament.
The tournament will also be honoring Mr. Palmer’s legacy by having his golf cart and clubs on display every day overlooking the 16th green, an area that Arnold frequently watched the event and greeted players and fans.
The 39th edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational will be held at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando March 13-19.