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  Wednesday, 19 July, 2000, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
R&A denies Palmer snub
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer was last at St Andrews five years ago
The Royal and Ancient Club has refuted claims it snubbed golfing legend Arnold Palmer ahead of The Open at St Andrews.

Palmer - a winner at Troon and Royal Birkdale in the 60s - did not attend the Past Champions dinner nor will he compete in the special four-hole challenge to mark this year's tournament.

The 70-year-old Palmer was reported to be disillusioned that he was not given an invitation to play in the Open - past champions have to be 65 and under to be exempt.

But R&A secretary Peter Dawson insisted he had done everything he could to persuade Palmer to attend the Millennium events.

"Arnold Palmer is the man who made the Open what it is today," said Dawson.


Arnold Palmer is the man who made the Open what it is today
R&A secretary
Peter Dawson

"He started the trend of top Americans coming over for the championship and he is one of our dearest past champions.

"I asked him so many times to come to the celebrations I have lost count, so many, in fact, that I almost felt I had asked him once too many.

"For whatever reason he felt he couldn't come. He chose not and it's a great tragedy, but it is not a snub."

The rules had been altered once before for Palmer, allowing him to compete at St Andrews five years ago in what was seen as his valedictory appearance.

65 and under

The rule had stated that former champions were exempt until they were 65, but the R&A switched it to 65 and under in order that Palmer could play.

"We bent it for him, but we didn't feel we could do it again," said Dawson.

"I think he would have liked us to extend an invitation to him to play in the championship itself, but we do have our rules and we didn't think it was appropriate to keep a young player out."

The Open at St.Andrews
20th - 23rd July
See also:

19 Jul 00 | The Open
18 Jul 00 | The Open
11 Jul 00 | The Open
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