Golfing great Arnold Palmer, who led 'Arnie's Army,' dies at 87

Mon Sep 26, 2016 1:36am EDT
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By Eric Beech and Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - Arnold Palmer, one of golf's greatest players whose immense popularity drew a legion of fans to the game at the dawn of the age of televised sport, died of heart complications on Sunday. He was 87.

Palmer, a charismatic figure popularly known as 'The King' who accumulated 62 career victories on the PGA Tour including seven major championships, died at UPMC Hospital in Pittsburgh, near his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

"Today marks the passing of an era," Alastair Johnston, his long-time agent, said in a statement.

"Arnold Palmer's influence, profile and achievements spread far beyond the game of golf. He was an iconic American who treated people with respect and warmth, and built a unique legacy through his ability to engage with fans."

Fellow golfing great Jack Nicklaus, who with Palmer and Gary Player formed the fabled 'Big Three', said in a statement: "He was one of my best friends, closest friends, and he was for a long, long time. I will miss him greatly.

"Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even great golfer. He was an icon. He was a legend. Arnold was someone who was a pioneer in his sport. He took the game from one level to a higher level, virtually by himself.

"Along the way, he had millions of adoring fans ... we were great competitors, who loved competing against each other, but we were always great friends along the way ... he was the king of our sport and always will be."

There were also tributes from U.S. Presidents present and past as well as anybody who is anybody in the world of golf.   Continued...

Arnold Palmer of the U.S. waves to the crowd as he stands on the 18th green during the Champion Golfers' Challenge tournament ahead of the British Open golf championship on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, July 15, 2015.       REUTERS/Russell Cheyne