September 25, 2016 - 9:18pm
Posted by:
Doug Ferguson
Michael.Benzie's picture
Arnold Palmer
Associated Press
Arnold Palmer brought a country club sport to the masses with a hard-charging style, charisma and a commoner's touch.

Statements by the PGA of America

“We were blessed that Arnold Palmer chose golf as a profession," said Derek Sprague, President of the PGA of America. "Born the son of a PGA Professional, Arnold inherited his father’s boundless passion for growing the game and reaching out to others. The countless lives that he touched, both within our industry and outside the gallery ropes, elevated golf to unprecedented heights. Our game and our country lost a legend today, but Arnold Palmer will forever be in our hearts.”


“When I think of Arnold Palmer, I think of his natural ability to relate to people, the close bond he had with his father, and how when I first came on Tour, he made young professionals like me feel welcome," said United States Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III. "Like me, Mr. Palmer was born the son of a PGA Professional and was taught by his dad not only the fundamentals, but also how to give back to this great game. He leaves an impact on the game and on sports in America that is unmatched. Tonight our country lost a great sportsman, a great American. As we approach the Ryder Cup this week, our team will keep Mr. Palmer and his family in our prayers and will draw from his strength and determination to inspire us.” 

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press

Alastair Johnson, CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, confirmed that Palmer died Sunday afternoon of complications from heart problems. Johnson said Palmer was admitted to the hospital Thursday for some cardiovascular work and weakened over the last few days.

Palmer ranked among the most important figures in golf history, and it went well beyond his seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour wins. His good looks, devilish grin and go-for-broke manner made the elite sport appealing to one and all. And it helped that he arrived about the same time as television moved into most households, a perfect fit that sent golf to unprecedented popularity.

Arnold Palmer brought a country club sport to the masses with a hard-charging style, charisma and a commoner's touch. At ease with both presidents and the golfing public, and on a first-name basis with both, "The King" died Sunday in Pittsburgh. He was 87.Palmer was born Sept. 10, 1929 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His father, Deacon, became the greenskeeper at Latrobe Country Club in 1921 and the club pro in 1933.

"If it wasn't for Arnold, golf wouldn't be as popular as it is now," Tiger Woods said in 2004 when Palmer played in his last Masters. "He's the one who basically brought it to the forefront on TV. If it wasn't for him and his excitement, his flair, the way he played, golf probably would not have had that type of excitement. And that's why he's the king."

"Thanks Arnold for your friendship, counsel and a lot of laughs," Woods tweeted Sunday night. "Your philanthropy and humility are part of your legend. It's hard to imagine golf without you or anyone more important to the game than the King."

Beyond his golf, Palmer was a pioneer in sports marketing, paving the way for scores of other athletes to reap in millions from endorsements. Some four decades after his last PGA Tour win, he ranked among the highest-earners in golf.

On the golf course, Palmer was an icon not for how often he won, but the way he did it.

He 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, then 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.

He was never dull.

"I'm pleased that I was able to do what I did from a golfing standpoint," Palmer said in 2008, two years after he played in his last official tournament. "I would like to think that I left them more than just that."

He left behind a gallery known as "Arnie's Army," which began at Augusta National with a small group of soldiers from nearby Fort Gordon, and grew to include a legion of fans from every corner of the globe.

Palmer stopped playing the Masters in 2004 and hit the ceremonial tee shot every year until 2016, when age began to take a toll and he struggled with his balance.

It was Palmer who gave golf the modern version of the Grand Slam — winning all four professional majors in one year. He came up with the idea after winning the Masters and U.S. Open in 1960. Palmer was runner-up at the British Open, later calling it one of the biggest disappointments of his career. But his appearance alone invigorated the British Open, which Americans had been ignoring for years.

Palmer never won the PGA Championship, one major short of capturing a career Grand Slam.

But then, standard he set went beyond trophies. It was the way he treated people, looking everyone in the eye with a smile and a wink. He signed every autograph, making sure it was legible. He made every fan feel like an old friend.

Palmer never like 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."

Palmer played at least one PGA Tour event every season for 52 consecutive years, ending with the 2004 Masters. He spearheaded the growth of the 50-and-older Champions Tour, winning 10 times and drawing some of the biggest crowds.

He was equally successful off with golf course design, a wine collection, and apparel that included his famous logo of an umbrella. He bought the Bay Hill Club & Lodge upon making his winter home in Orlando, Florida, and in 2007 the PGA Tour changed the name of the tournament to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The combination of iced tea and lemonade is known as an "Arnold Palmer." 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."

He had two loves as a boy — strapping on his holster with toy guns to play "Cowboys and Indians," and playing golf. It was on the golf course that Palmer grew to become so strong, with barrel arms and hands of iron.

"When I was 6 years old, my father put me on a steel-wheeled tractor," he recalled in a 2011 interview with the AP. "I had to stand up to turn the wheel. That's one thing made me strong. The other thing was I pushed mowers. In those days, there were no motors on anything except the tractor. The mowers to cut greens with, you pushed.

"And it was this," he said, patting his arms, "that made it go."

Palmer joined the PGA Tour in 1955 and won the Canadian Open for the first of his 62 titles. He went on to win four green jackets at Augusta National, along with the British Open in 1961 and 1962 and the U.S. Open in 1960, perhaps the most memorable of his seven majors.

Nothing defined Palmer like that 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. He was seven shots behind going into the final round when he ran into Bob Drum, a Pittsburgh sports writer. Palmer asked if he could still win by shooting 65, which would give him a four-day total of 280. Drum told him that 280 "won't do you a damn bit of good."

Incensed, Palmer headed to the first tee and drove the green on the par-4 opening hole to make birdie. He birdied the next three holes, shot 65 and outlasted Ben Hogan and 20-year-old amateur Jack Nicklaus.

Palmer went head-to-head with Nicklaus two years later in a U.S. Open, the start of one of golf's most famous rivalries. It was one-sided. Nicklaus went on to win 18 majors and was regarded as golf's greatest champion. Palmer won two more majors after that loss, and his last PGA Tour win came in 1973 at the Bob Hope Classic.

Tom Callahan once described the difference between Nicklaus and Palmer this way: It's as though God said to Nicklaus, "You will have skills like no other," then whispered to Palmer, "But they will love you more."

"I think he brought a lot more to the game than his game," Nicklaus said in 2009. "What I mean by that is, there's no question about his record and his ability to play the game. He was very, very good at that. But he obviously brought a lot more. He brought the hitch of his pants, the flair that he brought to the game, the fans that he brought into the game."

Palmer combined power with charm, reckless abandon with graceful elegance. Golf no longer was a country club game for old men who were out of shape. He was a man's man, and he brought that spirit to the sport.

It made him a beloved figure, and brought riches long after he stopped competing.

That started with a handshake agreement with IMG founder Mark McCormack to represent Palmer in contract negotiations. Palmer's image was everywhere, from motor oil to ketchup to financial services companies. Even as late as 2011, nearly 40 years after his last PGA Tour win, Palmer was No. 3 on Golf Digest's list of top earners at $36 million a year. He trailed only Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Palmer's other love was aviation. He piloted his first aircraft in 1956, and 10 years later had a license to fly jets that now are the standard mode of transportation for so many top players, even though the majority of them are merely passengers. Palmer flew planes the way he played golf. He set a record in 1976 when he circumnavigated the globe in 57 hours, 25 minutes and 42 seconds in a Lear 36. He continued flying his Cessna Citation 10 until he failed to renew his license at age 81, just short of 20,000 hours in the cockpit.

Through it all, he touched more people than he could possibly remember, though he sure tried. When asked about the fans he attracted at Augusta National, Palmer once said, "Hell, I know most of them by name."

Only four other players won more PGA Tour events than Palmer — Sam Snead, Nicklaus and Woods.

Palmer's first wife, Winnie, died in 1999. They had two daughters, and grandson Sam Saunders plays on the PGA Tour. Palmer married Kathleen (Kit) Gawthrop in 2005.

Palmer was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, which was caught early. He returned to golf a few months later, winking at fans as he waded through the gallery, always a smile and a signature for them.

"I'm not interested in being a hero," Palmer said, implying that too much was made about his return from cancer. "I just want to play some golf."

That, perhaps, is his true epitaph. Palmer lived to play.


Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Arnold Palmer obit: The King passes away at 87
September 25, 2016 - 8:42pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Arnold Palmer
PGA of America
Arnold Palmer passed away Sunday evening in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was 87 years old.

Sad news shook the golf world Sunday evening when it was learned that legend Arnold Palmer -- "The King" -- passed away in Pittsburgh, Pa., earlier in the day at the age of 87.

Palmer, a seven-time major champion who was three times a runner-up in the PGA Championship -- the only leg of the Grand Slam that eluded him -- was golf's first superstar in the television age of the 1950s.

In 1974, the 62-time PGA Tour winner (fifth all time) was one of the 13 original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Palmer was a legend on and off the golf course and his philanthropic works helped thousands.

In 2004, Palmer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and, in 2009, the Congressional Gold Medal. He was the first golfer to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the second golfer, after Byron Nelson, to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. 

ARNOLD PALMER – By the Numbers

  • 0 - Number of times associated with a losing Ryder Cup Team
  • 2 - Senior PGA Championships
  • 10 - U.S. Presidents who became friends/golf partners
  • 26 - Amateur Victories
  • 96 - Professional Victories
  • 7 - Major Championships won
  • 7- Member or Captain of winning Ryder Cup Teams
  • 22-8-2 - All-time Playing Record in the Ryder Cup
  • 37 - PGA Championship Appearances
  • 121 - Total Major Championship Appearances

MORE PALMER: Palmer's obituary | Golfers pay tribute to "The King" | Palmer's timeline, history | Remembering The King's greatest wins | Palmer's legacy includes hundreds of courses | Palmer changed the game and won hearts | A look back at Palmer's last Masters


  • 1929 - Born September 10 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania
  • 1933 - Father gives Arnold his first set of golf clubs when he's three
  • 1938 - Playing regularly with the older caddies on Latrobe's nine hole golf course
  • 1941 - Becomes a caddie at age 11 on Latrobe's course
  • 1947 - Enters Wake Forest University
  • 1950 - Leaves Wake Forest and for his military/wartime service joins U.S. Coast Guard
  • 1953 - Upon leaving Coast Guard, returns to Wake Forest but doesn't complete his degree (he will be awarded an honorary degree years later)
  • 1954 - Wins United States Amateur Championship
  • 1954 - Marries Winnifred Walzer on December 20 (they would have two daughters, Peggy and Amy)
  • 1954 - Turns professional after signing with Wilson Sporting Goods
  • 1955 - Wins his first important professional tournament, the Canadian Open
  • 1958 - Wins his first Masters
  • 1960 - Elected to PGA of America membership Wins Masters for a second time; wins first and only U.S. Open
  • 1960 - Founds Arnold Palmer Enterprises
  • 1961 - Wins his first Open Championship
  • 1962 - Wins third Masters Tournament; wins second Open Championship
  • 1964 - Wins fourth Masters
  • 1968 - Becomes first player in PGA Tour History to reach $1 million in official earnings, on July 21, with a tie for 2nd at the PGA Championship
  • 1970 - Awarded honorary doctoral degree from Wake Forest University
  • 1971 - Becomes president and owner of Latrobe Country Club
  • 1974 - Becomes president of Arnold Palmer Cadillac in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • 1980 - Enters Senior Tour and wins the PGA Seniors Championship
  • 1981 - Wins the U.S. Senior Open (first player to claim both U.S. and Senior U.S. Open titles)
  • 1984 - Wins his second PGA Seniors Championship
  • 1992 - Establishes major annual fundraiser for Latrobe Area Hospital
  • 1994 - Plays in his final U.S. Open
  • 1996 - Captains the U.S. team to victory in the President's Cup
  • 1997 - Undergoes surgery for prostate cancer
  • 1999 - Co-authors his autobiography, A Golfer's Life with James Dodson
  • 1999 - Wife, Winnie, dies of cancer on November 20
  • 2000 - Plays in his 1000th Tour event
  • 2002 - Matches his age (73) in the final round of the Napa Valley Championship
  • 2002 - Makes record 48th consecutive start at the Masters (his final Masters Tournament)


PGA of America historian Bob Denney contributed to this report.

Arnold Palmer, forever 'The King,' passes at 87
September 22, 2016 - 12:36pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Phil Mickelson
On the first hole in the first round of the Tour Championship at East Lake on Thursday, Phil Mickelson holed a putt for birdie from nearly 100 feet.

It's always nice to start off your round with a lengthy birdie putt (or any birdie putt, for that matter), isn't it?

So, that's what Phil Mickelson decided to do on his first hole in the first round of the Tour Championship at East Lake on Thursday.

Faced with a putt from 94 feet, 7 inches, Mickelson went ahead and did this:



Are you kidding me? And that thing took FOREVER to get to the hole.

Phil Mickelson holes 94-foot putt for birdie
September 21, 2016 - 8:58am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk received the prestigious Payne Stewart Award in Atlanta on Tuesday night. His acceptance speech was remarkable.

On Tuesday evening in downtown Atlanta, Jim Furyk became the 19th recipient of the PGA Tour's Payne Stewart Award.

The Payne Stewart Award is given to a player whose "values align with the character, charity and sportsmanship that Stewart showed," which includes respect for the traditions of the game, commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support and professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct.

It would be silly, but if you ever questioned Furyk's popularity amongst his peers, just wait until you see all the players -- past and present -- that filled the room for his presentation.

Players who aren't even in the field for this week's Tour Championship made the trip to watch their friend receive this prestigious award.

And, after watching Furyk's acceptance speech, you can be sure they're delighted they made the trip.

Check out Furyk's remarkable, inspiring speech below, which included this gem just as he started out: "I think I'm going to break the record for the quickest to cry. Stricker is going down tonight!"



Jim Furyk's incredible Payne Stewart Award acceptance speech
September 21, 2016 - 7:37am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Young Tom Morris, a four-time Open Champion, recorded the first known hole-in-one in golf history in the 1800s. There had been conflicting reports about the actual year it occurred, but now we have the actual date nailed down.

Last Friday it was our intention to put together a post recognizing the first known hole-in-one in golf history by Young Tom Morris.

While compiling information for the post, we ran into a snag. Through research, we found conflicting dates as to when the hole-in-one actually occurred. Some publications referenced the 1868 Open Championship at Prestwick (including the World Golf Hall of Fame website), while others had it as the 1869 Open, also at Prestwick.

Looking to get to the bottom of whether this achievement was 148 years old or JUST 147 years old, we put in an inquiry to the fine folks at Prestwick in Scotland, hoping we could clear it up.

It took a few days before our inquiry made it to the proper person, but we're happy to report we nailed down the date. The Young Tom Morris ace happened on the 166-yard, par-3, eighth hole -- the "Station Hole" -- on Prestwick's original 12-hole course in the first round of the Open Championship, played on Sept. 16, 1869.

Ken Goodwin, Secretary of Prestwick, was kind enough to provide a photo of the scorecard from that day:

Interestingly, if you look in the top-right corner, you'll see that the original year -- 1869 -- is crossed out and "1868" was written in. There's an explanation for that, Goodwin told us.

"For a long time there was a lot of confusion about which year Young Tom had a hole-in-one in the Open with various publications giving conflicting dates," Goodwin wrote in an email. "There was even some confusion at the Club in the 1930s when the scorecards were collated with the 1869 date being changed to 1868, but the newspaper report from the local press in 1869 definitely confirms that 1869 was the correct year."

If there's one thing we know -- and love -- about Scottish links courses, it's that typically not a whole lot has changed on them in the last 100+ years, with the exception of extending from the original 12 holes to 18 holes.

So, we wondered, could any one of us take a crack at that same par-3 hole today where Morris made his ace? As it turns out, the answer is "no."

"The Prestwick course was extended to 18 holes in 1882," Goodwin said, "only three of the original holes were retained and the old eighth hole was removed, so no longer exists."

Young Tom Morris, 18 years old at the time, would go on to win that Open Championship at Prestwick -- the 10th played -- by nine shots over runner-up Bob Kirk. Young Tom's father, Old Tom Morris, finished in sixth-place, 23 shots behind his son. The field consisted of just 14 players.

It was the second of four consecutive Open Championship wins for Young Tom Morris (he won in 1868, '69, '70 and '72 -- the tournament was not played in 1871). A year earlier, he became the youngest champion in tournament history at age 17 -- a record that stands to this day.

So, there you have it. To set the record straight, the Young Tom Morris hole-in-one -- the first known ace in the game's history -- happened on Sept. 16, 1869. 

The story behind the first known hole-in-one in golf history
September 20, 2016 - 12:38pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Ben Crane
@bencranegolf on Instagram
Ben Crane is no stranger to viral internet videos. He may have a new one with this pre-shot dance routine.

Ben Crane, a five-time PGA Tour winner, might actually be better known for his viral videos.

Well, the man who put the "Golf Boys" together is at it again in a new video with a new pre-shot routine:


Working on some new pre shot routines at the @cinkitchallenge. I think I blacked out during this one @kelleyjamesmusic

A video posted by Ben Crane (@bencranegolf) on

Those are some moves. 

Ben Crane's pre-shot dance routine