“The King” has passed. Golfing legend Arnold Palmer has died at 87. He died Sunday late evening at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Shadyside.
Palmer won 62 PGA Tour events, fifth on the all-time list. He won golf’s biggest titles: the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, with only the PGA Championship eluding him from completing the career grand slam, winning seven majors in all. But it wasn’t just the numbers that made Palmer an iconic sports figure.
He wasn’t the greatest male golfer of all time, but one could consider him to be the most important golfer of all time. He was one of the people, someone that everyone in the gallery and on television can relate to. He ignited golf’s popularity in the 1960s as he became the sport’s first TV star.
Palmer grew up in a working-class home in Latrobe, Pa., and ultimately he brought the game to the same kinds of people. When one watched him play his game, he would play with his shirt tail hanging out, flicking away a cigarette butt before hitting, swing for the fences with a very powerful swing, and grimace like he was a “duffer” if the result was bad.
Arnold Palmer was a genuinely nice guy. He would take all the time in the world for his fans, talking to them in the gallery, signing autographs in a clear and concise manner, and made it a point in knowing everyone’s name at all the clubs he played at.
And of course, there was “The Rivalry” – Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. They were complete opposites. You had Palmer, the people’s champ, and Nicklaus, he will surely be missed by everyone reserved, aloof and scientific about the game. Nicklaus easily beat Palmer in the record books. His 18 major titles still are the most anyone’s won. Palmer had seven. But Palmer had the adoring fans.
Palmer was one of a kind, and if you ever met the man, he was as genuine as they would come. Everyone would say that they were touched by The King, and now, there will be a void that someone will need to pick up. Palmer deserves to be one that everyone will surely miss him.