Arnold Palmer…The Citrus Open…& what became Bay Hill…
On this day, In 1971 Arnold Palmer won the Citrus Open by one stroke over fellow rival Julius Boros. “The King” masterfully navigated the Rio Pinar Country Club course to a 18 under par score of 270, while earning the 59th win of his career. Palmer received $30,000 of the $150,000 purse for first place, adding to his estimated $1.5 million career earnings. Fifteen years had passed since Palmers first triumph at the Canadian Open in 1955, for it he received $2,400 for 1st place. In loose figures… Palmer made 15 times more in this event than he did during hist 1st PGA win. Arnie’s army was in full force that afternoon at Rio Pinar, ready to see what “The King’s” next move may be…
The huge gathering included some on bicycles, couples pushing baby carriges, youngsters and older residents who jammed around the greens, standing on step ladders to catch a view of the proceedings. Palmer’s wife, Winnie, was seldom able to see her husband putt, so dense was the gallery surrounding the greens.
-Lincoln A. Werden of the New York Times
Palmer was 41 years old at the time of the win, and had the advantage on the runner up, 51 year old Julius Boros. Boros, a winner of two U.S Open’s along with a PGA Championship gave Palmer a steady challenge on the final day. The pair were neck-and-neck over the course of the final round until Palmer made a decisive move on the 17th hole. Palmer hit a near perfect shot that landed two feet from the pin. He easily poured in his birdie putt, which proved to be the final one-stroke edge. Boros, however almost came back with a miraculous birdie chip on the 18th green that skinned the cup but rimmed out. None the less he had to settle for a tap in par for a 69, a total of 271.
Bay Hill & the Arnold Palmer Invitational
There are times you go on vacation to a new destination and it just feels almost like a home away from home. This must been the feeling Arnie had in the Bay Hill area. In 1974, Palmer purchased the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, FL which hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational annually. The site serves as the headquarters for his businesses and in 1995 he helped co-found The Golf Channel, also in Orlando, FL.
Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.