One has to search far and wide to find someone who so nobly represented his sport for so long:
Arnold Palmer truly was The King
Sep 25, 2016 at 10:05p ET
There have been a handful of transcendent athletes over the past century, men and women who’ve made their mark in sport, entertainment and/or culture. There were better golfers and more important social figures. But there was never mistaking that there could only be one King and that was Arnold Palmer.
The 87-year-old golfer died Sunday, leaving behind one of the great legacies and personal empires that golf, or sports, has ever seen.
It can be argued that Arnold Palmer changed his sport perhaps more than any athlete has changed theirs. Golf had a deservingly stoic and stuffy reputation that’d been mocked for years until Arnie came along, with his dashing good looks and a power game the sport had never seen. With that distinctive swing, a swashbuckling style and unprecedented desire to hit the cover off every drive he ever stood over, Palmer exuded cool, like Don Draper in spikes. He was the successor to Hogan and the predecessor to Nicklaus, bridging the gap between old and new, even though no one realized the latter at first. When Nicklaus was usurping Palmer atop the game, it was Palmer who still held onto his “Army” of fans, the legion who would follow him around the course, including at the 1960 U.S. Open, when Palmer famously beat them both for perhaps his greatest title. Jack was the outsider – a little chubby and a bit square. He was the guy you wanted to golf like. Palmer was the guy you wanted to be.
He won 62 times on Tour, won a U.S. Amateur title and seven majors. He was a Ryder Cup hero, winning 22 matches in his career, the most among Americans. The 2016 edition starts in five days, making the timing of Palmer’s passing all the more touching.
One doesn’t just become a king because he’s great at one thing. Palmer was great at a lot of things, most notably in becoming the first modern-day pitchman (with help from agent Mark McCormack) and setting the standard for post-athletic success. …
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