Tiger Woods was the Arnold Palmer of the late 90s and early 2000s. Palmer’s shot in the arm to the game of golf during the 60s and the dawn of the television age was mirrored by Woods magnetism and invigoration of the game 30 years later. So needless to say, the two always had a special connection.
After playing with Woods when he was a junior golfer, Arnold Palmer famously said Tiger Woods would win as many majors as he and Jack Nicklaus combined. While that likely isn’t going to happen, it’s an example of the early high regard Palmer had for Woods and the term of their relationship, which saw TW win the Arnold Palmer invitational eight times.
We’ve heard, and will hear, plenty of phenomenal Arnold Palmer-related stories this week. But this is a fantastic Palmer tale, in which we found out #ArnieWould repeatedly listen to a particularly touching voicemail…from none other than Tiger Woods.
Alastair Johnson, Palmer’s former agent and current chair of Arnold Palmer Enterprises tells this story, per Golfweek’s Kevin Casey.
“Last year, we had a guy here that has won eight Arnold Palmer Invitational’s, Tiger Woods. Last year he couldn’t come when he planned on coming. And he left a voicemail for Arnold Palmer that we still have on record that wasn’t just an explanation of why he couldn’t be here, but he took it upon himself to talk about Arnold Palmer, to Arnold Palmer, in his voicemail. It was one of the most meaningful monologues I’ve ever heard from anybody, but it represented Tiger’s view on Arnold Palmer and what he has done for him, the game of golf, and for a universe at large.”
“That (message from Tiger) was something that I can tell you that Arnold listened to and listened to again and again. And by the way, it was a long message, and I can tell you this, that what Tiger said to Arnold at that point in time in paying tribute to him, was probably more meaningful to Arnold than the eight victories he won here.”
Of course, we’ll have to add the content of the voicemail to mystery files along with what Woods’ said to Palmer after his 2013 victory to elicit this reaction.
Ultimately, Woods’ message is something that’s best left between the two legends of the game. Interestingly, there’s an anecdote about how when the great Ben Hogan was nearing the end of his term on this planet, he and Woods shared an emotional phone call. Hogan, never known for his outpourings of affection or emotion, reportedly ended with something along the lines of “I feel the same way about you, Tiger.”
There’s a perception out there that Woods is really only willing to play the smiling game in public when it’s to his own benefit, but acts like the lengthy voicemail to Arnie belie that notion.