One of golf's greatest is gone: Arnold Palmer is dead at age 87. Alastair Johnson, CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, confirmed that Palmer died Sunday afternoon of complications from heart problems, reports AP. Palmer was admitted to a Pennsylvania hospital Thursday for some cardiovascular work and weakened over the last few days. Palmer won seven majors between 1958 and 1964 and 62 tournaments overall, becoming the first to crack $1 million in earnings. But the first obituaries rolling in make clear that his impact on the game goes well beyond those numbers:
- Golfweek: He "brought golf to the masses and became the most beloved figure in the game. ... No one did more to popularize the sport than Palmer. His dashing presence singlehandedly took golf out of the country clubs and into the mainstream. Quite simply, he made golf cool."
- New York Times: "Arnold Palmer, the champion golfer whose full-bore style of play, dramatic tournament victories and magnetic personality inspired an American golf boom, attracted a following known as Arnie’s Army and made him one of the most popular athletes in the world, has died ..."
- Golf.com: "Palmer led an American life that will never be duplicated, so rooted was it in a lost time and a place and the sui generis chemistry of the man. The golf legend won his last major championship in 1964 and his last PGA Tour event in 1973, but in the 43 years since then his status as an international icon has only grown."
- Washington Post: "Many credit Mr. Palmer with inventing golf as a televised sport, becoming the game’s first well-known star by helping to put a name and face to the game. Mr. Palmer’s vitality and boyishly handsome looks helped attract many new fans to the sport who watched on TV. 'I’ve got sex written all over my face,' Mr. Palmer once said."
- The Guardian: "With his common touch and everyman persona, Palmer was also credited with breaking down the class barriers and democratising an elitist sport, introducing golf to a blue collar audience and sparking the popularity of the game amongst a legion of new fans who’d previously been shut out."
- For a thorough obituary, see the Philadelphia Inquirer, which notes that Palmer started caddying at age 11 at the club where his dad was the greens superintendent and club professional.
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