Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer lit up golf with his brillianceReuters

Arnold Palmer, one of the greatest ever to play the game, died on Sunday. He was 87.

The American, according to magazine Golfweek, breathed his last in Pittsburgh, after a long battle with illness and ailing health. Palmer leaves behind his second wife, Kit, two daughters, six grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. One of his grandchildren, Sam Saunders, is a golfer on the PGA Tour.

"We loved him with a mythic American joy," Palmer's biographer James Dodson told Golfweek. "He represented everything that is great about golf. The friendship, the fellowship, the laughter, the impossibility of golf, the sudden rapture moment that brings you back, a moment that you never forget, that's Arnold Palmer in spades.

"He's the defining figure in golf."

Palmer is known for his brilliant-to-watch rivalry with Jack Nicklaus in the 1960s, when he went toe-to-toe with his fellow great. The American, who turned pro in 1955, went on to win seven majors in total, and while that is not near Nicklaus' record haul of 14, Palmer stands as tall as his great rival. Palmer was also a part of six Ryder Cup teams, while winning two titles as captain as well.

The greatness of Palmer was in the fact that he brought an audience to the game, he made golf interesting with his exciting play and by being able to relate with the non-elitist supporters of the game, and following retirement he went on to establish a legacy in designing golf courses.

Palmer, of course, received several awards, including the PGA Lifetime achievement award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional gold medal.

The golfing great was also one among the 13 original inductees into the hall of fame, back in 1974, but his fame and brilliance remained in the manner in which he played his golf. There were never any half measures from the great man – if a shot was there to be taken, he would take it, not hold back and go the safe route. That brought excitement and interest into the sport, and as Woods once said, if it wasn't for Palmer, golf would not be as popular as it is now.

"He made it possible for all of us to make a living in this game," golfer Mark O'Meara added a few years ago.

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