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Palmer sees end of playing career near

Arnold Palmer sees the end coming.

Frustrated by his two rounds in the U.S. Senior Open, Palmer said today he could not see himself continuing in competitive golf much longer unless he starts playing better.

Palmer never used the word retire and named some tournaments in which he planned to play. But he noted, "Well, I guess everything has to come to an end somewhere."

Perhaps the most popular golfer in history, Palmer failed to make the cut in the Senior Open after shooting rounds of 81 and 84. today's 84, which included a two-stroke penalty for an illegal putting stance as he was tapping in on No. 18, was his worst score ever in the Senior Open.

The last time he didn't make the cut was 1991.

"This is terrible, the last two days," Palmer said. "I don't know that I will play much more competition like this. I may play a few tournaments, a Masters or something like that. But unless I start hitting it a lot better in Latrobe, I am not going to take it anywhere else.

"I have some commitments this year which I will finish, some events that I have committed to, but other than that, that is about it.''

Palmer said he'll play in a seniors tournament in Boston in August and probably will play in next year's Senior Open at Saucon Valley in his home state of Pennsylvania.

"I am happy to be here. I am not happy about the way I played,'' Palmer said. "But I am not saying I am not going to play again, either.''

Palmer, 69, has four Masters titles, two British Open championships, and U.S. Open championship among his 92 victories worldwide. His last victory on the Senior Tour came in 1988, but he remains one of the game's most enduring figures -- a fact that was evident in this tournament.

Huge crowds followed Palmer during his rounds at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club and applauded his every step. At times, it seemed as if he spent more time tipping his cap than wearing it.

"I enjoy playing golf and I will probably never give up playing,'' Palmer said. "So that tells you the answer to that. I have always said when I can't enjoy playing out here and having the competition as a part of my existence, then I will discontinue the competition and play at home with my foursome.''

Palmer has played in five other senior events this year and in three tournaments on the PGA Tour, including The Masters. He didn't make the cut in any of the PGA Tour events.

Lately, Palmer has been bothered by a pulled muscle in his rib cage. Organizers weren't sure if he would show for the Open, but Palmer said he had intended to play no matter how he felt.

"I feel fine,'' he said. "I get a little tired on days like the last two where I have been working pretty hard prior to coming, and then getting here and trying to play a big round of golf and not being able to. I get frustrated. When I get frustrated, I get tired.''

AP