A Cry for Help
At the 1962 Colonial National Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas, Arnie was involved in a tough 18-hole playoff. On the 9th hole Arnie was just off the green and faced a tough chip to get up and down, save par and protect his one stroke lead. Just as he was settled over the ball, ready to play, a small boy in the gallery broke the total silence by speaking to his mother. Palmer backed off, looked around toward the boy and broke into a smile. The rest of the gallery stared coldly at the woman and made loud “shushing” sounds. As Arnie addressed the ball again, the embarrassed mother started to scold her son. Just as he was about to play, the child started to cry as a result of the scolding. Arnie backed off once more, looked around and started to chuckle. This time, adjusting to their hero's mood, the crowd laughed with him.
The child calmed down and Arnie returned to business. Before he could complete his shot, however, he heard choking sounds behind him and a muffled cry as if for help. He turned to see the young boy's face becoming bright red. The desperate mother had her hand clamped viselike over his nose and mouth! Arnie broke into his famous smile yet again, then walked over and patted the boy on the head, saying to his mother, “Hey, don't choke him. This isn't really all that important.” The entire gallery laughed aloud. The boy was so happy at being able to breathe again that he remained quiet as Arnie marched back to his ball for the fourth time, chipped to within a few feet, made his par and went on to win the playoff.