Washington: Arnold Palmer, one of the greatest and most popular players in the history of golf, has died, according to the US Golf Association. He was 87.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Arnold Palmer, golf’s greatest ambassador, at age 87,” USGA tweeted.
It was reported he died on Sunday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Palmer’s health has been in decline for some time.
Palmer, who celebrated his 87th birthday two weeks ago, was widely regarded as one of the best professional golfers of all time. He was also one of the most charismatic figures in all of sports, drawing loyal fans known as “Arnie’s Army,” who would follow him at tournaments, ABC News reported.
He was nicknamed “The King” and had won the Masters four times and the British Open twice.
His 50th and last appearance at the Masters came in 2004 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush that same year. Palmer retired from professional golf two years later.
He stayed connected to golf by owning a golf club in Florida and consulting for the Golf Channel.
Outside of golf, Palmer was an avid pilot and his name is largely associated with his eponymous drink, which is a combination of iced tea and lemonade, ABC News added.
Palmer married his first wife Winifred in 1954 and she died of cancer in 1999, according to Palmer’s official website. He is survived by his second wife, known as Kit, whom he married in 2005, his two daughters, six grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
News of his death sparked immediate condolences from another notable golfer: Tiger Woods, whose last tweet prior to tonight was a message wishing Palmer a happy birthday earlier this month.
“Thanks Arnold for your friendship, counsel and a lot of laughs. Your philanthropy and humility are part of your legend.”
“(2/2) It’s hard to imagine golf without you or anyone more important to the game than the King,” Woods tweeted.