Golf world out to honour Arnold Palmer

The Arnold Palmer Invitational takes place at Bay Hill this week

BY Simon Maguire 09:50 Wednesday 15 March 2017, 9:50 15 Mar 2017

Arnold Palmer unveils a plaque on the new South Course. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

This year's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida will be the first since the golfing legend passed away towards the end of 2016.

The seven time major winner was such a beloved and popular character on Tour that the hoards which followed him everywhere became known as "Arnie's Army".

The man who became known as "The King of Golf" connected with the fans in a way no other had until he came onto the scene. 

He won the Masters at Augusta four times, the US Open once and the British Open twice but fell agonisingly short of the career Grand Slam by finishing runner-up three times at the US PGA Championship.

He also became the first professional golfer to earn $1 million. 

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Congressional Gold medal eight years later - America's top two civilian honours.

The US Golf Association released the following statement after hearing of his passing: "We are deeply saddened by the death of Arnold Palmer, golf's greatest ambassador, at age 87. Arnold Palmer will always be a champion, in every sense of the word. 

He inspired generations to love golf by sharing his competitive spirit, displaying sportsmanship, caring for golfers and golf fans, and serving as a lifelong ambassador for the sport.  Our stories of him not only fill the pages of golf’s history books and the walls of the museum, but also our own personal golf memories.  The game is indeed better because of him, and in so many ways, will never be the same." 

There has been some controversy with only 14 of the world's top 25 players taking part this week but the hectic Tour schedule has seen some, including Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson, give it a miss.

As for those who are due to tee off this week, featured groups include Rory McIlroy, Brandt Snedeker, Sam Saunders; Adam Hadwin, Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell; Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose.

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