Big things are planned for next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, the first since the passing of Arnold Palmer on Sept. 25, 2016.
As for which pros will be there to honor the King, that remains unclear.
Several top players are not in the field for the event, stirring a debate of whether or not players should feel obligated to play and honor one of golf’s greatest legends.
As Golf Channel’s Cara Robinson pointed out in a tweet, only 10 of the top 25 players in the world are committed thus far. Billy Horschel replied to Robinson’s tweet, voicing his frustration with those who will miss it. Horschel is in the field.
Disappointing. Totally understand schedule issues. But 1st year without AP. Honor an icon! Without him wouldn’t be in position we are today https://t.co/yzaIqbbSpM
— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) March 7, 2017
The Arnold Palmer Invitational lands near two high-purse WGC events — two weeks after the WGC-Mexico and the week before the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play — and is four weeks before the Masters. Pros’ scheduling is usually done far in advance as many factors go into how they plan their season. Things like sponsorship obligations, playing history at a specific course, rest and family time play a part in their decisions.
Justin Thomas, who has won three times already this year, was asked on Twitter why he won’t be there.
Would love to, for The King and it’s a great golf course. One of my college teammates and best friends getting married that weekend https://t.co/w8A1tBFko7
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) March 6, 2017
Palmer bought Bay Hill Club & Lodge in 1974. The event has been called the Arnold Palmer Invitational since 2007, and has been a Tour stop since 1966, under different names.
A 13-foot statue of Palmer will be unveiled on Saturday to commemorate the late host’s contributions to the tournament. It will be displayed during tournament week and permanently thereafter.
Players have until 5 p.m. EST on Friday to commit to the tournament. As of now, the field is headlined by Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose.