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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Maroon on the Green

Photo by File
Ryan Palmer

SAN ANTONIO — It has been three years since Ryan Palmer’s last Masters appearance, 10 since his first showing, 15 since his graduation from Texas A&M.

And as one of golf’s most prestigious and historic events, The Masters, prepares to start Thursday in Augusta, Georgia, the Aggie said he feels good about his chances.

“I’m excited about Augusta,” said Palmer, who sits No. 23 in the world and will enter The Masters for the first time since 2012. His best of four previous finishes came in 2011, when he tied for 10th. “I haven’t been there the last two years, so I’m looking forward to it — especially the way I’m playing. It sets up good for me, and it’s nice going to majors when you’re playing well.”

His journey hasn’t always been an obvious one. Palmer said the idea of becoming a professional golfer didn’t occur to him until late in high school, and he played a year at the University of North Texas before transferring to A&M.

A&M’s head golf coach at the time, Bob Ellis, said Palmer reached out to him and it was clear he was determined to play for the Aggies.

“At a tournament in Mexico, he showed a strong desire that he wanted to come to Texas A&M,” Ellis said. “Ryan always wanted to be an Aggie. I didn’t recruit him because of the situation that we had on the team. He said, ‘Okay, I still want to come to Texas A&M.’”

Ellis, Palmer and the golf team developed a unique relationship. Ellis joked that Palmer wasn’t the best putter on the team at first.

“We would have putting matches amongst the team and I sometimes, and he was our patsy. ‘Come on Ryan. Come on Ryan. Get over here and putt!’ He couldn’t — he couldn’t beat a drum. He was terrible. I thought he would be a good player,” Ellis said. “There was no question he would be a good player, but to do what he does now, week in and week out, who that person was when we were trying to bring him over to be our patsy, make some money off of him, I don’t know who that person was, he’s entirely different now. He’s someplace, he’s in someplace that no longer exists.”

Palmer earned All-Conference honors all three years at A&M and was the Aggies’ scoring leader for two seasons. He also made the 1997 Big 12 All-Tourney team along with Miguel del Angel. 

Del Angel said he remembers spending time watching The Masters with Palmer in college.

“We would go to Ryan’s house and watch The Masters,” Del Angel said. “It’s kind of surreal having him out there. We used to play some of the golfers out there like Paul Casey, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald. It’s nice to see Ryan on TV.”

Ellis said Palmer is not only known for his skill, but for his sportsmanship and character on and off the course. Palmer created a charity, the Ryan Palmer Foundation, and works to stay involved with the Aggie community.

“Ryan is the type of person that if you can’t get along with him, then you’ve got a problem,” Ellis said. “He was always a joy to be around, a joy to coach. Everything I ever asked him to do, he did. He was always hard working, fun to be around and very talented.”

After graduating from A&M with a degree in parks and recreation, Palmer turned professional in 2000 and earned his PGA Tour Card in 2003. He has won three tournaments on the PGA Tour — the 2004 FUNAI Classic, the 2008 Ginn sur Mer Classic and the 2010 Sony Open.

Last season was Palmer’s best statistically on the PGA Tour. Despite no tournament wins, he made the cut in 20 of 23 events and finished with 10 top-25s and eight top-10s, which included finishing second at the Humana Challenge and at the Honda Classic.

This season, Palmer is off to a hot start. He has made the top 25 in seven of eight tournaments and has tallied three top-10s, including a tie for second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Palmer credits his recent run of success to changes in his game.

“I’ve gotten better physically with the workouts I’ve been doing,” Palmer said. “I hit a lot more fairways and a lot more greens. When I’m putting well is when I’m having my good events and my good weeks. The combination of driving the ball well and putting the ball well [has] helped [me the] last few years.”

Although Palmer has graduated, he still spends time in Aggieland with his wife, Jennifer, who graduated from A&M with a biomedical sciences degree.

“I try to go to as many football games as I can, that’s for sure, and I keep up with the guys on the golf team and JT,” Palmer said.

Palmer has earned $18,318,471 since 2004. However, he said it’s not about the money. 

“I never look at the money side of it or what I have monetary wise,” Palmer said. “At this point in my career, it’s just a matter of competing, trying to be the best in the world and winning golf tournaments.”

Palmer will tee off at 11:42 a.m. and is paired with three-time major winner Irish golfer Padraig Harrington and Danish golfer Thomas Bjorn.

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