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Golfers hail their king, Arnold Palmer

dpadpa 26/09/2016 Steve Larkin

Golf has united in paying tribute to the King of the sport, Arnold Palmer, who has died aged 87.

Some golfers called him a legend. Others an icon, or folk hero. But all hailed Arnold Palmer as their King.

Just as Palmer united his sport, golf united in his death.

"Arnold was the folk hero of golf," Australian golfing great Peter Thomson said in a statement.

"Not only was he the greatest personality the game has produced, he was King of the fairways every time he played."

"We were only two weeks apart in age and great rivals. We certainly had some wonderful times together."

Palmer died, aged 87, of complications from heart problems on Monday Australian time.

The man from blue-collar Latrobe in Pennsylvania claimed seven major championships between 1958 and 1964 - four Masters, two British Opens and one US Open - in a long career which yielded 95 professional wins including 62 on the US PGA Tour and the 1966 Australian Open.

But it was his swashbuckling style, as much as substance, which turned golf's image from a staid sport to an exciting event.

Palmer was a genuine working man's hero who turned sedate spectators into 'Arnie's Army' of fans.

Palmer was a risk-taker on the course. With a devilish grin and devil-may-care outlook, he become golf's first megastar of the sport's television age and earnt his moniker: The King.

"Arnold transcended the game of golf," Jack Nicklaus 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."

From Nicklaus to Tiger Woods to Jason Day. All hailed The King.

Woods: "It's hard to imagine ... anyone more important to the game than The King."

Day: "He touched us all and was an incredible role model. The King."

US President Barack Obama: "Here's to The King, who was as extraordinary on the links as he was generous to others."

American golfer David Duval: "Not a a single modern golf fan would be a fan without him. The King made golf cool."

But Palmer's influence wasn't just on-course, and on people.

Off-course, he started many successful businesses, including a club company and a golf course design firm.

"It is not an exaggeration to say there would be no modern day PGA Tour without Arnold Palmer," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.

"There would be no PGA Tour Champions without Arnold Palmer.

"There would be no Golf Channel without Arnold Palmer (who was a co-founder).

"No-one has had a greater impact on those who play our great sport or who are touched by it."

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