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Arnold Palmer to miss Bay Hill Invitational

Arnold Palmer will skip the Bay Hill Invitational for the first time since he founded the tournament in 1979, most likely ending his 52-year streak of playing on the PGA Tour.

``I'll miss playing. There's no doubt in my mind about that,'' Palmer said Monday. ``But we all move on. I'll fulfill my duties as host of the tournament, whatever is needed, and enjoy watching the golf. That will be different, yes, but it's fine. I'm looking forward to the tournament just the same as any other year.''

Palmer, 75, has played at least one PGA Tour event every year since 1953. He played in his 50th consecutive and final Masters last year and stopped playing the Bob Hope Classic three years ago.

Palmer got married last week in Hawaii, although he had decided before that to skip Bay Hill.

He started the tournament at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, which Palmer owns, in 1979. He never won the tournament, although he was 49 when it began. Palmer's best finish was a tie for 24th in 1991 at age 61.

The closest he came to missing Bay Hill was in 1998, when he returned from prostate cancer.

Palmer played two weeks ago in the MasterCard Championship in Hawaii, the season-opening event on the Champions Tour. He also said he would play in the Senior PGA Championship in late May at Laurel Valley near his home in Pennsylvania.

``I'll pick and choose,'' he said. ``You'll never hear me say I won't play anymore. But I'll be very selective.''

Chad Campbell is the defending champion at Bay Hill. He played the first two rounds last year with Palmer, and something must have rubbed off on him. Campbell rallied from a four-shot deficit in the final round by closing with a 66 for a six-shot victory.

 

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