Monday, September 26, 2016

ARNOLD PALMER - Long live The King!

Arnold Palmer made a country club sport popular for the everyman. Through his remarkable life, he never lost that personal touch. That's what made him The King.

Palmer died Sunday in Pittsburgh. He was 87.

"Arnold transcended the game of golf," Jack Nicklaus said. "He was more than a golfer...  He was an icon. He was a legend. He took the game from one level to a higher level, virtually by himself. Along the way, he had millions of adoring fans.




Alastair Johnston, the CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, said Palmer was admitted to the UPMC Hospital on Thursday for some cardiovascular work and weakened over the last few days.

Beyond his golf, Palmer was a pioneer in sports marketing, paving the way for scores of other athletes to reap  millions from endorsements. Some four decades after his last PGA Tour win, he ranked among the highest-earners in golf. It is not an exaggeration to say there would be no modern-day PGA Tour without Arnold Palmer. Golfers would still be wearing plus-fours, coats and ties. Hmmmm, what would John Daly wear?

Palmer would hitch up his pants, drop a cigarette and attack the flags. With powerful hands wrapped around the golf club, Palmer would slash at the ball with all of his might, twist that muscular neck and squint to see where it went. "When he hits the ball, the earth shakes,"Gene Littler once said. Palmer rallied from seven shots behind to win a U.S. Open. He blew a seven-shot lead on the back nine to lose a U.S.Open. His fans lovin' him all the way.

He was never dull And he never liked being referred to as "The King," but the name stuck. "It was back in the early '60s. I was playing pretty good, winning a lot of tournaments, and someone gave a speech and referred to me as 'The King,'" Palmer said in a November 2011 interview with The Associated Press."I don't bask in it. I don't relish it. I tried for a long time to stop that and," he said, pausing to shrug, "there was no point."

He was equally successful off with golf course design, a wine collection, and apparel that included his famous logo of an umbrella. He "invented" the Arnold Palmer, an ice tea and lemonade concoction. PGA star, Padraig Harrington recalls eating in an Italian restaurant in Miami when he heard a customer order one.

"Think about it," Harrington said. "You don't go up there and order a 'Tiger Woods' at the bar. You can go up there and order an 'Arnold Palmer' in this country and the barman — he was a young man — knew what the drink was. That's in a league of your own."

A league of his own, for sure.

Gerrie Ferris Finger
With Doug Fergerson, The Associated Press