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No Holding That Tiger Woods at Arnie's Place

tiger woods pga 14

In his latest golf video game hitting the shelves next week, Tiger Woods can play against Arnold Palmer -- Arnold Palmer in The King's prime, that is.

Arnie also battles bad guys trying to steal his trophies.

"It was actually more cool to do the commercial shoot with him. That was pretty neat to see Arnold Palmer move like that. You'll see it in the commercial," Woods said, adding with a laugh, "He did all the stunts himself. All of them."

Woods is playing against the icons of golf history these days.

He's chasing Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead in the record books, but it's Palmer who forever holds an endearing place in his career, along with his namesake event.

"This tournament has a very special place in my heart," Woods said.

The Bay Hill Club has been Woods' home away from home. He first won an event here as a 15-year-old at the 1991 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. Beginning Thursday, he will seek his eighth Arnold Palmer Invitational title as defending champion.

Last year Woods broke out of his 30-month winless slump and a victory at The Arnie will return him to the No. 1 ranking, a spot he last held in October of 2010.

On Wednesday, Woods recalled after that junior tournament that Palmer was handing out medals to players who had previously competed. "I said I'd like to one day play in as many Juniors as that," Woods said. "It all started there. I met Arnold that week."

Woods eventually moved into Isleworth and often played in the weekly "shoot-outs" with Palmer's friends at Bay Hill, sometimes squaring off against Arnie.

"Unfortunately, lost money to him, too," Woods said with a smile.

Woods reminded everyone that his two children were born at a hospital named after Palmer's late wife, Winnie Palmer.

"So Arnold Palmer's been great over the years -- not to just myself -- but to all the players out here," Tiger said.

Palmer, 83, remembers giving the young Woods some advice.

"I think he's done pretty well with a couple of exceptions," Palmer said.

Woods has fully rebounded from the scandal that, along with various injuries and swing changes, derailed his career for a while. He posted three wins last season and two this season.

Woods is four wins behind Jack Nicklaus' record 18 wins in major championships. Palmer likes Tiger's chances, but suggests he not waste many more opportunities.

"I give him a chance to do the record," Palmer said. "I suppose that every year, it's a little more fleeting, however, and he'll have to really work hard to keep himself up and keep his mental attitude if he's going to do it."

Woods also has 76 Tour wins, good for second all-time, and is closing in on Sam Snead's record 82.

Snead was 52 when he recorded his last triumph; Woods is 37.

"The record that he set is great," Palmer said of Snead. "Can Tiger do that? I don't think there is any question that he can win that many tournaments. I think he can, and I think he probably will."

Palmer wasn't around the Bay Hill Club last March to see Tiger's final shots on No. 18 of the final round.

He was taken to the hospital to treat his high blood pressure, unable to participate in the awards ceremony.

Palmer had been adjusting to a new medication. He was held overnight at the hospital as a precaution.

"I was sort of a little incapacitated at that point, so I didn't see all of the shots," Palmer said. "I saw a couple of them, but I was getting my blood pressure taken, and all of that stuff.

"So I really missed a lot of shots that (Woods) played."

Palmer wouldn't be surprised if Tiger continues to dominate the event. The course suits him.

"From what I've watched of him over the years here," Arnie said, "it seems to work pretty well."

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