Arnold Palmer: Tributes to golfer and Royal St George’s legend

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Arnold Palmer was a guest of honour at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, passed away at the age of 87 on Wednesday night….

Arnold Palmer: Tributes to golfer and Royal St George's legend

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Arnold Palmer was a guest of honour at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club

Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, passed away at the age of 87 on Wednesday night.

He came up through the ranks as a professional golfer at the Royal St George’s Golf Club in Kent and before turning pro he played several amateur tournaments.

He made his debut at the Open at Royal Birkdale in 1959, beating Peter Thomson in a play-off.

His sporting career was extended by a major coup with the sponsorship of the Palmer Golf Show.

Palmer wrote the characters in the show in his autobiography and it continued for 12 years. It drew millions of viewers worldwide and became a tradition for British TV audiences.

The evening show was cut short in 1970 after a testicular cancer scare, but Palmer’s skills came through to win two majors the following year.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Golf on the TV was much less widespread back in the 1960s

How golf evolved after ‘The Open’ and ‘The Futures’

The Cup, The Masters, The Open Championship – they all began to be contested on better ball courses, which made Sunday play even more meaningful for the professionals.

The competition saw players from the European Tour and American Tour shake hands at the presentation ceremony to separate them from the amateurs and retained amateur, and act as a third Major.

The legends from both sides of the Atlantic – Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson and more – all agreed they didn’t mind the long courses at Royal St George’s or at Carnoustie.

In 1969, there was the Montgomerie War, when Ian and Samir tied for first place and Monty was given a trophy that read “British Open 2013 victor”. This was the first year the Montgomerie Trophy was awarded.

Vintage Palmer might have won the Scottish Open, despite trailing the other leading players, but The Masters, paired with the Open, cemented his major legacy.

England’s Paul Lawrie was first in 1994 and Ben Curtis won that year before reigning champion Tiger Woods stole the show in 2005.

Parmjeet Salhi spoke to golf fans worldwide who will miss the legend and the celebrations at the Open, including Thomas Peter and a delighted Pamela, whom Palmer was a close friend.

Special thanks go to Tommy McArdle, Helen Calder, Mark Bendall, Jonathan Gillham, Mike Weir, Rick Begley, Deanne Bartrum, Laura Glasgow, John Kennedy, Hayley Wood and Jennie Bowe.

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