By Barry Janoff
November 15, 2012: It's difficult to score a "first' when you are 83 years old and have been a professional athlete for more than 55 years. But Arnold Palmer has done just that.
The legendary golfer will appear on the cover of EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 videogame alongside Tiger Woods himself. This will be the first cover appearance for Palmer in the videogame franchise's history.
Palmer will also be part of the game, in which players can hit the greens on some 20 golf courses.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is scheduled to hit retail in the U.S. on March 26, 2013.
In unveiling the cover, EA Sports exclaimed, "In an historic celebration of the world of golf, Arnold Palmer, 'The King,' makes his first appearance alongside Tiger Woods on the North American cover of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14!"
The company had been teasing consumers on Facebook by revealing the cover one section at a time in the days prior to the final cover shot, which revealed Palmer's face. Although marketing was not disclosed, it is expected to include action from the videogame featuring Palmer and Woods.
Woods has been aligned for most of his golf career with Palmer, including winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational seven times.
Woods has now shared the cover of the videogame for three of the past four versions.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 featured Rory McIlroy on the cover with Woods in the European editions and Woods with Bubba Watson in the U.S. versions. McIlroy also appeared with Woods on the cover of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 edition.
Woods was absent from the cover of all versions of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 except for one special-edition, in part due to the fallout from his personal life becoming a public scandal. That situation eventually cost him more than $40 million in lost endorsements from the likes of Gatorade, AT&T, Accenture, Gillette and Tag Heuer. A deal with General Motors ended before the scandal broke.
In addition to such long-time endorsement pacts with Nike and EA Sports, Woods has since signed some new deals, including Rolex and Fuse. But he is down some $60 million in annual endorsement income from a high of about $120 million in 2008.
Woods has won 14 golf Majors, but none since the U.S. Open in 2009. He has 74 total career wins since 1996, but only three after 2009.
EA Sports also said that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 would feature several golfers making their debut in the videogame franchise, including Keegan Bradley, Bud Cauley, Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson.
The first edition of the videogame was Tiger Woods PGA Tour 99, which was released in 1998.