"Is it really over?"

Most of the Palmer retirement tributes are pretty syruppy, but I thought Scott Michaux's in the Augusta Chronicle was respectful without sailing over the top (and includes a nice reminder that The King really is wanted on the first tee at Augusta!):

That the end came in the first round of something called the Administaff Small Business Classic on a course, Augusta Pines, that sounds like an assisted-living community hardly matters. Whether it was the Masters Tournament or the Bob Hope Desert Classic, Palmer was always bigger than the event itself.

These goodbyes to Palmer have been accelerating with the years. He had a couple of them at Augusta National (his final major appearance) and a couple more at his Bay Hill Invitational (his final PGA Tour event). And now he has reached the point where he's not willing to even play with the seniors anymore.

Even a peer and fellow legend like Lee Trevino appreciated the significance of the moment. Playing with John Mahaffey and Palmer on Friday, Trevino pilfered the King's ball out of the final cup and whipped a Sharpie out of his pocket for the official end of an era.

"While he had the Sharpie, I said, 'Sign that glove, too,' " Trevino told The Associated Press. "We didn't take his shoes."

Palmer's final official round ended with the word "withdrawn." But even with that Palmer displayed the class that has characterized his career for more than half a century. After telling Trevino to stop keeping his score and officially citing a sore back for his premature exit, Palmer kept on playing.

"I can't leave," he told Trevino, saying he owed it to his legion of fans to press on despite the mental and physical pain.

That's what made Palmer the most beloved player in the history of golf. He was not its greatest champion and didn't possess the finest swing, but nobody before or since has ever had the charisma that Palmer holds in spades. Whether it's on the golf course, in the clubhouse or on the dance floor, Palmer oozes with the magnetism that has drawn his Army of fans for every step of the ride.

That the ride is finally over is as traumatic to his fans as it is to him. That Palmer never won a major championship in my lifetime didn't stop him from being as giant a figure to my generation as he was to his own. That it has been 18 years since I witnessed him win his last tournament at the senior Crestar Classic in Richmond, Va., hasn't made every sighting since any less thrilling.

Is it really over?

"My father used to say that this life would pass so quickly it would make your head spin," Palmer wrote in his autobiography, A Golfer's Life. "And you know what? He was right about that. This life, my life, has done just that."

Now we can only wish that Palmer will take the stage that late greats Byron Nelson, San Snead and Gene Sarazen took before him on the first tee of the Augusta National Golf Club for an honorary start to the Masters. With no other places to get a glimpse of the King, it is our last hope.

Palmer understands that no matter how awkward it might be to stand up in front of the world trying to give it that good shot, just a fix of his radiance is all we want.