Farewell Arnold

> Nick­laus leads trib­utes to ‘The King’ Palmer at memo­rial <

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ATEARFUL Jack Nick­laus led the trib­utes to Arnold Palmer yes­ter­day as the golf­ing world gath­ered to bid farewell to the trail­blaz­ing icon who died last month at age 87.

A who’s who of golf de­scended on the Saint Vin­cent Basil­ica in Palmer’s Penn­syl­va­nia home­town of Latrobe at a memo­rial ser­vice to cel­e­brate the life of the man known to mil­lions sim­ply as “The King.”

Nick­laus was among friends and loved ones who ad­dressed the con­gre­ga­tion in the three-hour ser­vice, shar­ing mem­o­ries of a more than 50-year friend­ship which be­gan in the late 1950s.

The 76-year-old 18-time ma­jor win­ner choked back tears dur­ing an emo­tional trib­ute, de­scrib­ing Palmer as a golfer “who epit­o­mised charisma.”

“He was an ev­ery­day man, ev­ery­one’s hero,” Nick­laus said. “Arnold man­aged to re­move the ‘I’ from icon and in­stead let the world share in his great­ness.

“Golf gave so much to Arnold but he gave back so much more. He ap­pealed to ev­ery­one. He was the king of our sport, and he al­ways will be.”

Nick­laus ad­dressed an au­di­ence con­tain­ing some of the big­gest names of golf span­ning dif­fer­ent eras, from Palmer con­tem­po­raries such as Lee Trevino through to Tom Wat­son, Nick Faldo and Ernie Els to the cur­rent crop of stars.

Palmer’s close friend Char­lie Mechem opened the trib­utes to the golf leg­end, whose world­wide le­gion of fol­low­ers was af­fec­tion­ately known as “Arnie’s Army.”

“This is the elite bat­tal­ion of Arnie’s Army, as it should be,” Mechem said.

US Ry­der Cup stars Phil Mick­el­son, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Wat­son were also among the crowd.

Fowler and Wat­son ar­rived clutch­ing the Ry­der Cup, which the USA wrested back from Europe last week­end af­ter three con­sec­u­tive de­feats.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to bring it here to­day,” Fowler told an in­ter­viewer on the Golf Chan­nel tele­vi­sion net­work shortly be­fore the ser­vice got un­der way.

PGA Tour com­mis­sioner Tim Finchem ad­mit­ted he had found it hard to put his sad­ness at Palmer’s pass­ing to one side.

“I got the same in­struc­tions, which were to make this an up­lift­ing cel­e­bra­tion, but I can tell you it’s re­ally, re­ally hard to do that be­cause we come here with heavy hearts,” Finchem said.

“When we talk about Arnold’s legacy I don’t be­lieve it’s a legacy of the past. It’s a liv­ing legacy that he has left us.”

Peter Daw­son, the long-serv­ing for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Royal & An­cient, the rul­ing au­thor­ity for golf around the world, cited the role Palmer played in broad­en­ing golf’s ap­peal in all cor­ners of the globe, hail­ing him as the sport’s “great­est am­bas­sador.”

“The qual­i­ties of Arnold Palmer’s mag­netic char­ac­ter en­deared him to golf fans, sports fans and in­deed the wider pub­lic,” Daw­son said.

“Arnie’s Army was global and af­fec­tion for him was in­ter­na­tional. He was sim­ply adored by mil­lions.

“Arnold was golf’s great­est am­bas­sador, both at home and abroad. He mixed with heads of state, with pres­i­dents, with prime min­is­ters, but he never lost his com­mon touch.

“He could open doors that were firmly closed to others. But he was more than an am­bas­sador – he was the king, and al­ways will be.”

Palmer, who died on Sept 25, won 62 ti­tles on the PGA Tour dur­ing a ca­reer that saw him play a huge role in bring­ing golf to a main­stream au­di­ence.

His haul of ti­tles in­cluded four US Masters green jack­ets, two Bri­tish Opens and one US Open ti­tle.

In closing re­marks to­wards the end of the ser­vice, Palmer’s friend Mechem said sim­ply: “There’s an old say­ing that there are no ir­re­place­able peo­ple.

“Who­ever made that line didn’t know Arnold Palmer. There will never be an­other.” – AFP

Tom Wat­son speaks with Jack Nick­laus (right dur­ing a Cel­e­bra­tion of Arnold Palmer.

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