Arnold Palmer, Olympic Golf Advocate, 87

(ATR) Golf legend Arnold Palmer died Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Honorary starter US golfer Arnold Palmer greets fans as he arrives to begin Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Honorary starter US golfer Arnold Palmer greets fans as he arrives to begin Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

(ATR) Golf legend Arnold Palmer died Sunday in Pittsburgh. He was 87.

Palmer, who won seven majors and 96 tournaments, forever changed the game with his go-for-broke style, charisma and good looks, generosity and gentlemanly demeanor.

Affectionately referred to as "The King", Palmer is credited for elevating golf’s popularity from country clubs to the masses in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Palmer was a strong supporter of golf’s return to the Olympic Games. In an August 8th essay for the Golf Channel, just three days before the pro golfers teed off in Rio, Palmer expressed his excitement for Olympic golf, deeming the opportunity as "pure gold."

Palmer wrote: "As a kid growing up in Latrobe, Pa., I could dream about being an Olympian like Jesse Owens or Johnny Weissmuller. I could also dream about being a great golfer like Bobby Jones or Byron Nelson. But the idea of being an Olympic golfer never occurred to me. The notion of golf in the Olympics — something that last happened a quarter-century before I was born — was completely alien. But that all changed in 2009 when the International Olympic Committee voted to again include golf on the Olympics slate."

The golfing icon’s unique rapport with fans spawned "Arnie’s Army" his loyal legion of fans. Palmer said he was a fan himself of Olympic golf noting: "I’ll be rooting for America, but pulling for the sport of golf."

Palmer surmised that the Rio Olympics could spark a boom internationally, something he did single-handedly in the United States following his first major title at The Masters in 1958.

"Will many of you be watching and rooting for the Americans during the Olympic competition? You bet, and so will I. So imagine the billions of people — particularly sports-crazed kids — in places like India, Bangladesh, Brazil, China and Malaysia watching their own countrymen and women competing and (I expect) contending on the greatest stage in sports. The global interest that spotlight will spur is incalculable," Palmer wrote.

Palmer’s essay concluded: "This month, for the first time in 112 years, golf stands heroically alongside the marathon and the decathlon on a 21st-century digital stage that spans from a television in South Carolina to a hand-held phone in the South China Sea.

"This is the game in full bloom and living color with all the pomp and pageantry sport can muster. As of today a kid growing up in western Pennsylvania or eastern Portugal can dream of being an Olympic golfer.

"This is golf in the Olympics. And that, alone, is pure gold."

Written by Brian Pinelli

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