Arnold Palmer was not at the 18th green, waiting to congratulate Tiger Woods after his win at Bay Hill on Sunday. But the golfing legend’s presence was felt following his namesake tournament.
“I know he puts his heart and soul into this event,” Woods said of Palmer, 82, who was hospitalized that afternoon due to high blood pressure from new medication.
Palmer was kept overnight as a precaution but is expected to be released from Dr. Phillips Hospital after lunchtime Monday barring complications, according to Scott Wellington, tournament director of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“He’s fine. He’s going through tests right now,” Wellington said Monday, relaying news from Palmer’s daughter Amy Saunders.
Palmer’s blood pressure, which had been monitored throughout the day due to issues with the new medication, showed an increase about 15 minutes before the start of the final day of the tournament, according to his longtime business manager, Alaistair Johnston.
“It wasn’t anything to do with any ailments or any discomfort he felt,” Johnston said. “The blood pressure was at a level where the doctor involved suggested that he go immediately to get more intensive evaluation at the hospital.”
Still, it was disconcerting to some of the golfers not to see Palmer at the 18th hole, waiting to congratulate the winner with a handshake and a hug.
“I was surprised to see him not around, and when we just heard the news on the side that he had been taken to the hospital, of course we were very upset and certainly praying that everything is going to be OK,” said Graeme McDowell, who played in the final group with Woods. “That really puts a little bit of a damper on the spirits on 18th green when Tiger is going to pick up his trophy.”
And even as he acknowledged his first PGA Tour victory in 30 months on Twitter, Woods added a nod to Palmer at the end: “Heading home now and I can’t stop smiling. Thanks to Otown fans and everyone watching for all the love. Get well soon, Arnie.”