Pro breaks nearly 40-year-old Arnold Palmer record at Players

Jerry Kelly at the Chubb Classic in Naples, Florida last month.

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Golf is a fun game where world No. 3 Rory McIlroy, 33, can be sent home early without a check while Jerry Kelly, 56, plays at the weekend.

And with this week’s 36-hole cut, Kelly made a piece of history.

Opening with rounds of 74-72, Kelly broke Arnold Palmer’s 1985 record as the oldest player to make the cut in Players Championship history. Kelly’s age of 56 years, 3 months and 16 days surpasses Palmer’s age of 55 years, 6 months and 19 days in 1985.

Kelly bogeye his last hole of the second round on Friday and had to wait until the end of the second Saturday morning when Eric Cole made his last hole with two putts to prevent the cut going back to two overs.

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No Laying Up’s Kevin Van Valkenburg asked Kelly, who is in the field this week due to his win last season at the PGA Tour Champions’ Bridgestone Senior Players Championship (now Kaulig Companies Championship), if fighting for the cut validates his exception.

“No,” Kelly said to Van Valkenburg. “It shows me that maybe I shouldn’t be here because I’m struggling to make the cut. I’m slumming it here this week.”

Kelly will slum it with Kieth Mitchell and Alex Smalley in the third round. Smalley was born in October 1996, seven months after Kelly made his first career start with the Players. He’s 36 years older than the youngest player in the field this week, Tom Kim, who also shot 146 in the first two rounds.

The Wisconsin native has three career wins on the PGA Tour and his resume includes fighting with Tiger Woods on the stretch of winning the Players Championship for the first time in 2001. Kelly has 11 PGA Tour Champions wins, including winning the Senior Players — one of the Majors of the tour – both last year and 2020.

He shot rounds of 73-70 to miss the cut in his final Players appearance of 2021.


Jack Hirsch editor

Jack Hirsh is Associate Editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University with degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was the captain of his high school golf team and still *tries* to stay competitive with the local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack worked for two years at a television station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a multimedia journalist/reporter, but he also produced, hosted and even presented the weather. He can be reached at Pro breaks nearly 40-year-old Arnold Palmer record at Players

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