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Palmer may return to PGA Tour for 50th year

After the way Arnold Palmer was bashing the ball on the driving range this week, he's starting to rethink his self-imposed retirement plans.

Last year, after playing in the Masters, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and Bay Hill Invitational, Palmer strongly indicated that he had played in his final PGA Tour event. However, the last rites administered to his last rounds might have been premature.

Bitten by the bug after some improved results of late, Palmer said he would like to keep alive his 50-year streak of playing in a regular-tour event, which dates to his appearance as an amateur in the 1953 U.S. Open.

He played in his 48th Masters last spring and stole the sentimental show at Augusta National. An amazing sixth decade now beckons.

"Oh, I'm thinking about that," he said Monday night. "Augusta put a little bit of the kibosh on that for me. That was the one thing I wanted to do at Augusta -- was to play for 50 years -- and last year was my last time, and I won't play again.

"But that doesn't mean I won't play in a regular-tour event again. I will keep my options open, just to do the 50-year thing. It may be Bay Hill."

Palmer tweaked his swing takeaway this week and is stunned at how well he is hitting the ball.

Bay Hill, hosted by Palmer himself, is set for March 20-23. Of course, when fans and friends have twisted his arm in the past, Palmer has been known to change his mind.

"I went out and hit balls today and hit it so gosh-darned good that it scared me," he said.

"I might have to give myself a sponsor's exemption."

Jack Nicklaus has played in a Tour event for 45 years in a row, the second-longest active streak.

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