Arnold Palmer, golf legend and cultural icon, passed away Sunday at the age of 87.
Golfers, young and old, paid their respects to the “King” who transcended the game of golf, sharing personal anecdotes about how Palmer helped mold their love for the game and wrote the book on how to be a consummate professional.
Tiger Woods, who first met Arnie at the U.S. Junior Amateur at Bay Hill back in 1991, gave a heartfelt tribute to his friend following his passing.
“Arnold touched so many people. My kids were born at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, and his philanthropic work will be remembered along with his accomplishments in golf. It was an honor and privilege to have known Arnold, and I’m forever grateful for his friendship.”
The 40-year-old Woods also shared a funny story about having to write Arnie a $25 check back in 1995, before Tiger hit it big. A story only made better when you consider that Arnie is the third highest grossing athlete of ALL TIME, raking in close to $1 billion in his career.
As told my USA Today:
In 1995, Palmer was playing in a Senior PGA Tour event in Napa, Calif., when he invited Woods, a student at Stanford, to dinner.
“Cool, I’ll go out to dinner with Arnold Palmer,” Woods recalled. “Well, the tab comes. I’m not going to say, ‘Hey, Arnold, it’s on me.’ He goes and picks up the tab like it’s no big deal.”
It almost became a big deal. Woods was threatened with suspension by the NCAA if he didn’t reimburse Palmer for his portion of the dinner to avoid a violation. Woods had to write a check for $25 to Palmer.
Woods also relayed a story that encapsulated just how much of a beast Arnie was, when playing a round with him and Jack Nichlaus.
“Arnold hit first on 10 and Jack hit second, I hit third. And Jack grabbed some water and I did as well and Arnold just took off down the fairway,” Woods said. “Well, he was using leather grips. And he was unwrapping the leather grips. I don’t know if anyone’s ever tried to re-grip leather grips. Do you know how hard that is? You’ve got to have some of the strongest arms and hands in the world. And Arnie was just doing it going down the fairway as if it was nothing.
“‘That’s Arnold,’ Jack said. His hand strength was amazing. He was hitching his pants, looking around, getting ready to hit a shot, regripping the clubs while he waited. That was Arnold right there. Just amazing.”
Pour an Arnold Palmer out for Arnold Palmer. RIP to a legend.
[h/t USA Today]