GOLF ‘The King’ passes away at age 87

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

ARNOLD Palmer, the golf great whose charisma and com­mon touch drew a le­gion of fans known as “Arnie’s Army” and pro­pelled the game into the main­stream, died on Septem­ber 25 at the age of 87.

Palmer’s long­time as­sis­tant Doc Grif­fin con­firmed the player known as “The King” had died at Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh Med­i­cal Cen­ter Pres­by­te­rian Hos­pi­tal.

No cause of death was im­me­di­ately given, al­though the Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette re­ported he had un­der­gone car­diac tests.

“We just lost one of the in­cred­i­ble peo­ple in the game of golf and in all of sports,” 18-time ma­jor cham­pion Jack Nick­laus said.

“He has al­ways been a fighter and he never gave up on any­thing. He didn’t give up even now. Maybe his body did, but I know Arnold’s will and spirit did not.”

Palmer cap­tured seven ma­jor tour­na­ments dur­ing his il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer, tak­ing The Masters four times (1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964), the Bri­tish Open twice (1961 and 1962) and the US Open once (1960).

His go-for-broke style, raw ath­leti­cism and un­ortho­dox swing en­thralled fans, and he be­came one of golf’s first tele­vi­sion su­per­stars, help­ing make the sport ac­ces­si­ble to a much wider au­di­ence.

His rise – along with that of Nick­laus and Gary Player – set the stage for the sport’s huge broad­cast rights fees and prize money riches, which were later en­hanced by the suc­cess of Tiger Woods.

“Thanks Arnold for your friend­ship, coun­sel and a lot of laughs,” Woods said on Twit­ter. “It’s hard to imag­ine golf with­out you or any­one more im­por­tant to the game than the King.”

Palmer looked frail when he joined fel­low icons Player and Nick­laus for the cer­e­mo­nial first tee shot at the Masters in April.

For the first time in 10 years, he didn’t swing a club, in­stead sit­ting in a chair to watch the spec­ta­cle.

Al­though Palmer’s pres­ence around the game had be­come less reg­u­lar in re­cent years, to­day’s young stars were aware of the iconic player’s im­pact.

“Let’s be hon­est, it’s kind of a nerdy sport,” Aus­tralia’s Ja­son Day said this year. “Arnold Palmer made golf sexy.”

Palmer, born Septem­ber 10, 1929, was the son of the club pro­fes­sional and greens su­per­in­ten­dent at La­trobe Coun­try Club. Palmer started cad­dy­ing at 11 and went on to work al­most every job at the club.

Fans iden­ti­fied with his blue-col­lar back­ground, and he never for­got his roots even as he pi­loted his own jet to char­ity func­tions and busi­ness meet­ings and be­came a friend of pres­i­dents and cor­po­rate big-wigs.

“Palmer went to bed at night with charisma. And the next morn­ing he woke up with more,” leg­endary Sam Snead once said.

Palmer at­tended Wake For­est Univer­sity on a golf schol­ar­ship. At age 24, he won the 1954 US Ama­teur at the Coun­try Club of Detroit.

Later that year, Palmer turned pro. In a ca­reer that spanned more than six decades, he won 62 PGA Tour ti­tles, putting him at fifth on the Tour’s all-time vic­tory rank­ings.

He led the PGA Tour money list four times, and was the first player to win more than US$100,000 in a sea­son.

He played on six Ry­der Cup teams and was the win­ning cap­tain twice, and launched a busi­ness em­pire with the help of Mark McCor­mack, founder of pi­o­neer­ing sports mar­ket­ing com­pany In­ter­na­tional Man­age­ment Group.

In 1974, Palmer was one of the orig­i­nal in­ductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Iden­ti­fied most strongly with the Masters, Palmer’s Bri­tish Open vic­to­ries are cred­ited with re­viv­ing US in­ter­est in the cham­pi­onship.

He never man­aged to com­plete the ca­reer Grand Slam, fin­ish­ing sec­ond three times in the PGA Cham­pi­onship – in 1964, 1968 and 1970.

It didn’t mat­ter to fans who trea­sured his hu­mil­ity or his ri­vals who knew he re­de­fined their sport.

“Arnold tran­scended the game of golf,” Nick­laus said. “He took the game from one level to a higher level, vir­tu­ally by him­self.” –

FIFA’s all-pow­er­ful ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, which had be­come the epi­cen­tre of cor­rup­tion at the or­gan­i­sa­tion, was re­branded as a FIFA coun­cil at the body’s congress in Mex­ico ear­lier this year.

It was cre­ated to op­er­ate in a sim­i­lar way to a com­pany’s board of di­rec­tors as part of plans to make the or­gan­i­sa­tion more trans­par­ent, in­clud­ing in the award­ing of host coun­tries for World Cups, fol­low­ing a string of cor­rup­tion scan­dals.

Three male can­di­dates – Zhang Jian of China, Iran’s Ali Kafashian Naeni and Zain­udin Nordin of Sin­ga­pore – will com­pete for two of the seats in to­day’s vote, which will be at­tended by FIFA Pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino

Three women are con­test­ing the third slot un­der FIFA’s re­forms which state that each con­fed­er­a­tion must have a min­i­mum of one fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the coun­cil.

For­mer Aus­tralian foot­baller Moya Dodd is favourite to pip Mah­fuza Ahk­ter of Bangladesh and North Korea’s Han Un-Gy­ong to be the AFC fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

In­fantino is un­der­tak­ing a cleanup of FIFA af­ter a se­ries of cor­rup­tion scan­dals and bribery al­le­ga­tions plunged the body into cri­sis.

For­mer pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter is serv­ing a six-year ban from foot­ball over ethics vi­o­la­tions while for­mer sec­re­tary gen­eral Jerome Val­cke was banned for 10 years over mis­con­duct re­gard­ing tele­vi­sion deals and 2014 World Cup ticket sales.

Al­le­ga­tions of vote-buy­ing have also dogged the award­ing of the 2018 World Cup to Rus­sia. –

Photo: AFP

US golfer Arnold Palmer changed the game of golf for­ever with his com­bi­na­tion of charisma and ath­leti­cism.

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