The PGA Tour tournament in Palm Springs, California, under any name, has always been an event featuring top players and historic moments.
Officials are hoping the 64th American Express tournament in La Quinta this week will somehow make its own history. But the tournament is also the anniversary of a big moment in both tournament and PGA Tour history. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Arnold Palmer’s fifth win in The American Express, and his 62th and last victory on the PGA Tour.
Palmer loved the desert, living in the area part-time for most of his professional life and winning a PGA Tour event in the area a year before what is now The American Express debuted in 1960. Of course, Palmer won the first American Express tournament in 1960 as well as winning it in 1962, 1968 and 1971. Few would have thought that the 1973 title at Bermuda Dunes Country Club would be his last, though at age 43 Palmer was clearly slowing down.
Here are seven things you should know about Palmer’s last PGA Tour win in The American Express, known then as the Bob Hope Desert Classic:
Normally, rain is as rare at the desert’s PGA Tour event as a round in the 80s. But it rained on this day and was chilly and windy as well. This was not a gentle drizzle, either. The rain was so hard at times that Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller both said after the round they thought play would be called a few times during the round.
But Nicklaus and Miller didn’t face the problem Palmer did in the rain. Palmer was in a phase of his career when he was wearing glasses while he played. That meant Palmer had to constantly wipe the drizzle off his glasses, and at times the glasses would fog up so much that he would simply take them off for some shots. But officials said the rain didn’t keep the crowds down, saying 22,000 people were on the course for the Palmer-Nicklaus showdown.
Palmer won the National Team Championship in August of 1971 with partner Jack Nicklaus. It was his fourth win of the season (including the Hope in February), but Palmer didn’t win at all in 22 starts in 1972, the first time Palmer had gone an entire year without a tour victory in his career since his first win in 1955.
Palmer had 10 top-10 finishes in 1972, including a third…