Palmer peeved by Donald and McIlroy no-shows

 

Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy have upset the King. Arnold Palmer yesterday revealed his anger at the absence of the world's Nos 1 and 2 from the tournament bearing his name.

"I'm disappointed they aren't here, no question about it," said the 82-year-old on the eve of the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando. "I'm certainly not happy that those fellas chose not to come this year. I had a letter from Rory seeking my consultation and he also told me he wasn't coming. And, of course, that made me feel great."

Palmer has clearly taken the decisions personally. Donald, who regained No 1 with victory in Tampa at the weekend, is having a fortnight off before Augusta while the Northern Irishman is in Miami with his girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki, in the middle of a three-week break.

"We are doing everything we can to entice them to come and play," said Palmer at Bay Hill in Orlando. "When I think back, I went to the British Open to enhance interest in international golf. And to think that those people are now the top players in the world; we'd like to have them here."

Tiger Woods is in the field, however. The former world No 1 is playing his first competitive rounds since withdrawing from the WGC Cadillac Championship 11 days ago with an achilles injury, although he is not concerned about a recurrence in his final Masters warm-up event.

Woods revealed he played a practice round at Augusta on Sunday before playing in the Tavistock Cup, an exhibition event on Monday and Tuesday. "It felt great at Augusta, and that was the test," said Woods, who has won at Bay Hill on six occasions. "So it's actually going to be eight rounds in eight days." That is providing he makes the cut, of course.

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