Tributes flow for Palmer
Photo Source: EPA
Very few figures from the sports world have been mourned as great statesmen or global leaders but iconic golfer Arnold Palmer was afforded that status with US President Barack Obama leading the tributes.
Obama described Palmer as "the American Dream come to life", following the death on Sunday of the seven-times major champion at the age 87 due to heart complications.
Palmer is widely regarded as the man most responsible for popularising golf worldwide as television was coming of age in the early 1960s and every leading player in the modern era acknowledges the huge debt they owe the man known as 'The King'.
The focus of the golf world this week be on Hazeltine National for the Ryder Cup between hosts the United States and holders Europe and organisers have said there will be 'touches' of Palmer tributes during the biennial team competition.
Along with fellow golf greats and rivals Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, 'The King' Palmer formed the fabled 'Big Three' who collectively accumulated 34 major championship titles and more than 370 tournament victories around the world.
Not only did that trio set the gold standard for the manner and style of their play, but they also became ideal role models for the sport, both on and off the course.
American Nicklaus and South African Player issued touching and heartfelt tributes to a man they described as a life-long friend as well as a fierce competitor but it was Obama who highlighted Palmer's appeal to "an audience across the world", praising Palmer's "homemade swing and homespun charm", and his on-course swagger "before we had a name for it".
Obama added: "Arnold's freewheeling, fearless approach to the game inspired a generation of golfers and, for the first time on TV, enthralled an audience across the world."
In his native South Africa on Monday, Player woke up to the news of Palmer's death and tweeted: "Arnold Palmer simply transcended the game of golf. He was inspirational to so many and lived his life to the fullest."
The 18-times major winner Nicklaus, 76, 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.
"We were great competitors, who loved competing against each other, but we were always great friends along the way ... we were always there for each other. That never changed. He was the king of our sport and always will be."