Arnold Palmer, who four decades ago gave golf a jolt of popularity, has prostate cancer.
Palmer, 67, found out the results of his biopsy Friday when he checked into his hotel at the Mercedes Championships, where he was attending the annual PGA Tour awards dinner.
“I just learned about it,” Palmer said Friday night at the dinner.
Palmer has withdrawn from next week’s Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and said he would not play competitively again until the cancer was “taken care of.”
He is scheduled to play the Senior Skins Game in Hawaii in two weeks, and the PGA Tour said in a release that Palmer had not withdrawn from that event yet, pending the results of additional tests.
Palmer said he was returning to his home in Florida for the tests.
“Now we decide what course of action is best,” Palmer said.
Palmer gave no indication what stage the cancer is in nor the prognosis for recovery. Prostate cancer is slow to develop, and can be successfully treated if detected early.
One source familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Palmer has had regular blood tests and twice they indicated a problem. But on both occasions a biopsy was negative. The positive reading came in his third biopsy, the source said.
A second source told the AP that a biopsy six months ago was negative, indicating that the cancer is most likely in its very early stages.
Thousands of new golf fans - mostly thirtysomething middle-class Americans enjoying post-World War II affluence surged to golf during the late 1950s and early 1960s, drawn in part by the dash and daring of Palmer.
The hard-charging, good-looking Palmer would pluck a cigarette from his mouth, flick it to the ground, hitch up his pants and unleash a wicked, awkward swing that ended with a ducking, wincing squint.
The power of his game and passion of his play electrified galleries.
Palmer has won seven major professional championships, including four Masters, two British Opens and a U.S. Open. He never won a PGA Championship to complete the career grand slam.
Palmer is still followed by huge galleries known as Arnie’s Army.