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Arnold Palmer will not hit ceremonial opening tee shot at the Masters

March 15, 2016

Arnold Palmer will not hit the ceremonial opening tee shot at next month's Masters, Golf World's Tim Rosaforte reported on Tuesday. Palmer still plans to be at Augusta National for the tournament and the Champions Dinner. Rosaforte broke the news on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive."

Rosaforte spent time with the golf legend in Palmer's office on Monday. That's when the seven-time major champ said he'd called Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne to let him know he won't be a part of the opening tee shot ceremony.

"I spoke with Arnold yesterday and we certainly understand his decision," Payne told Rosaforte. "It makes no difference whether he hits a drive. He is a true legend in golf and will be welcomed as usual on the first tee with the other Masters honorary starters. It will be a great day."

Palmer has been part of the ceremony since 2007. Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player are still expected to be on the tee Thursday, April 7, to kick off the year's first major championship.

Rosaforte said the news isn't surprising for those who have been around Palmer, citing a lingering shoulder injury from December 2014 as the main culprit. Palmer has not been able to hit balls of late.

Palmer is the tournament host of this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. On Monday, he rode a golf cart around the course greeting players.

Rosaforte said Palmer is "in great spirits" and "talking about getting back on the treadmill." He also added that he's excited about playing host this week.