Phil Mickelson and other members of the Ryder Cup team attend service for golfing legend, who died in late September age 87
A farewell to the King turned somber when Jack Nicklaus, his voice cracking as a large tear formed in his left eye, urged the elite and the everyman to remember how Arnold Palmer touched their lives and please dont forget why.
I hurt like you hurt, Nicklaus said. You dont lose a friend of 60 years and not feel an enormous loss.
The service Tuesday at Saint Vincent College in Palmers hometown was filled with as much laugh and warmth from tales of the most significant figure in modern golf. Virtually 1,000 golf dignitaries from around the world, referred to by former LPGA Commissioner Charlie Mechem as the elite brigade of Arnies Army, crammed into the basilica.
Some 4,000 others headed to remote sites across the college to watch. Long lines of traffic formed two hours before the service began.
Palmer died on 25 September in Pittsburgh at age 87 as he was preparing for heart surgery. His household had a private funeral Thursday and would like to request that a public service be held after the Ryder Cup so no one would be left out.
We were seeming down at the air strip and the fog simply abruptly lifted, Ernie Els said after landing in one of several private airplanes that descended on Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe. This is a beautiful day. Weve all gratified different people in life. He was a man who didnt change. It didnt matter if you cut the grass or you were a chairwoman. He was the same with everybody. He was just … he was the man.
Palmer won 62 periods on the PGA Tour, including seven major championships. He inspired the modern version of the Grand Slam by going over to the British Open and inducing it important in the eyes of Americans again. He was a captain twice in the Ryder Cup, and the gold trophy the Americans won Sunday at Hazeltine sat on a table for guests to see as they took their seats.
But this service was more about the lives Palmer touched than the tournaments he won.
In the large portrait at the front of the stage, Palmer wasnt holding a golf club or a trophy. It was just the King and that insouciant grin that stimulated everyone feel like they were friends, even if they had never met.
Have there been better golfers? Perhaps, but not many. Has anyone done more for video games? No one has come even close, former R& A chief Peter Dawson said. Is there a finer human being? I havent gratified one yet.
Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and a few other members of the US team were there. So was the generation before them, Tom Watson and Curtis Strange, Lee Trevino and Mark OMeara. Dozens of others were there, along with the heads of every major golf organisation. All of them alternately smiled and wiped away the occasional tear.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said he had known Palmer since 1957 Finchem was 10 that year because when you assured him play, it was the same thing as meeting him. He said Palmer brought so many people to golf because of his attacking style, his television appeal and how he carried himself.
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