Sunday, September 25

Arnold Palmer Transcended the Game of Golf


Arnold Palmer, aka "The King."
"Arnold Palmer will always be a champion, in every sense of the word," the United States Golf Association said in a statement. "He inspired generations to love golf by sharing his competitive spirit, displaying sportsmanship, caring for golfers and golf fans, and serving as a lifelong ambassador for the sport. Our stories of him not only fill the pages of golf’s history books and the walls of the museum, but also our own personal golf memories. The game is indeed better because of him, and in so many ways, will never be the same."

"Arnold transcended the game of golf," Jack Nicklaus said. "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—Barbara and I among them. We were great competitors, who loved competing against each other, but we were always great friends along the way. Arnold always had my back, and I had his. We were always there for each other. That never changed.

"He was the king of our sport and always will be."

When I interviewed Arnold in 2010, I asked him about his stirring, come-from-behind victory at the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. He made up seven shots in the final round to claim his first and only national title. 

"Do you think you were a little bit more focused and a better player when you played from behind?" I asked.

"Let's just say I never ruled out the possibility of winning," Arnold said. "Until it was figuratively impossible, I always thought I had a shot."

That was always Arnold's style, and it took him a long way in golf and life and won him legions of fans.

Palmer won seven major championships: four Masters, one U.S. Open and two British Opens. He collected 62 PGA Tour titles and made seven Ryder Cup appearances. He also won five senior majors. "The King" is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2004) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2009).

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