The Commander in Chief was in town yesterday. For $60,000 and jet fuel, Arnold Daniel Palmer participated in the Junior League Golf Exhibition at the Salt Lake Country Club, where he left his usual blessing on the game and got his usual standing ovation for 18 holes. The Army hasn't faded away, it's just paying higher gallery prices.

In a press briefing, Arnie spoke liberally on a variety of subjects, including the fact that he's only 15 months away from turning 65, an age that will have as much real meaning as the British monarchy. "I love what I do and I will continue to do it," he said. "I suppose I could go home and build a golf course and take it easy. But I don't want to. I enjoy playing golf. I'd as soon get up in the morning and play golf as anything I can think of."Arnie on other fronts:

- On John Daly:

"We're not really that much alike, except that John is a person who gets a kick out of the gallery. He can cultivate that into something positive, but he has to show them (the fans) that he appreciates their adulation. As long as he keeps hitting it as far as he hits it, he can do whatever he wants."

- On previous visits to the Salt Lake Country Club:

"I suppose a lot of modern-era golfers don't remember when the Tour came and played right here. But I remember it well. I can remember Dow Finsterwald making a three- or four-foot putt to win here. I hit it in the canyon on the last hole and finished second, I believe. Then I had to give a speech praising Dow as the winner. Dow and I were good friends. If I didn't win I wanted him to win. But I gave him a dig when I spoke anyway, all in fun."

- On returning to the Country Club more than 30 years later, riding the Senior golf wave that pays him more for one appearance ($65,000) than the entire purse for the aforementioned 1960 Utah Open.

"It is remarkable to me, to think I was here that long ago and now I'm back today, playing with three guys (Mark O'Meara, Tom Kite and Peter Jacobsen) who either weren't born the last time I was here, or hadn't been born very long."

- On presidential golf (after recent outings with ex-President Bush and current President Clinton):

"Well, at the moment President Bush might have a little edge. But I have to say this, President Clinton has potential. And I think he's interested. He seems to really like the game."

- On his upcoming pro-am pairing with Michael Jordan in Chicago in a tournament in two weeks:

"I told him I'm bringing money."

- More on Jordan . . . on Jordan being able to get away from his chosen sport by playing golf - something Arnie hasn't been able to do . . . on his brief basketball career:

"I don't necessarily envy him because I've always enjoyed playing golf. I've had my outlets too. Some of them haven't been sports oriented. But I've been able to get away when I've wanted to . . . I went out for the basketball team one year in high school but they said I wasn't tall enough. The golf coach at the high school was also the equipment manager for the basketball team, and he didn't want me to play basketball anyway. He wanted me to concentrate on golf."

- On the Senior Tour switching its annual Utah site from the course Arnie designed at Jeremy Ranch to Park Meadows, a course designed by Jack Nicklaus:

"I just heard about that yesterday. I don't have a problem with it. I don't know the other course very well, I've only seen it from the road. Changing courses doesn't matter. If it becomes a local conflict or a political situation, that bothers me. It (the change) would have no effect on my desire to play in Utah. Not at all. If my schedule permitted and it was something I wanted to do, I'd be here."

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- On the current golf revolution:

"Thousands and thousands of people are taking up the game every year now. The one thing I'd like to see preserved are the traditions. I'd like everybody who plays to know them, right down to the dress codes, and that it is a gentleman's game."

- On golf as a lifetime sport and a good way to keep out of trouble:

"I've just never gotten tired of playing golf. It's something you can do, and enjoy, at any age, at 70, at 80, whenever you want. Oh, occasionally I'll get tired. I'll take a day off and go shopping with Winnie. Or go swimming with the grandkids. But I've never woken up in the morning and not wanted to do what I do. People have said it's better to do what I do every day than hang out in some bar."

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