MINNESOTA (REUTERS) - Just as Europe were inspired by the spirit of Seve Ballesteros when they won the 2012 Ryder Cup, Jimmy Walker is looking to Arnold Palmer's impact to help the US cause this week at Hazeltine.
Golf great Palmer, a veteran of six Ryder Cups as a player, died at the age of 87 on Sunday due to heart complications and memories of his huge influence in helping grow the game worldwide have overshadowed the build-up to this year's edition.
No question, the United States could do with as much help as they can against holders Europe in their bid to end a run of eight losses in the last 10 Ryder Cups, including the last three in a row.
"I'm sure he will be looking down on Team USA this week," 2016 PGA Championship winner Walker told Reuters on Monday after practising his putting stroke on a sun-splashed but surprisingly windy day at Hazeltine National.
"We've already talked about it as a team. We will have a little umbrella logo, wear pink socks, do a few things to show our respect for Palmer."
A successful businessman and seven-times major champion, Palmer owned a golf course design firm and a private resort at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida where the logo is a red, yellow, white and green umbrella.
He was also known for wearing pink when he competed in golf tournaments, especially when it came to his shirts.
Four years ago, Europe pulled off one of the greatest comebacks on a golf course to win the Ryder Cup at Medinah where they had trailed 10-6 heading into the last-day singles before going on to triumph by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2.
Drawing inspiration from their beloved Ballesteros, who had died the previous year aged 54 after a battle with cancer, every European player wore the navy blue colours favoured by the Spaniard in the final rounds of tournaments.
Whether or not the US players can follow suit with inspired golf at Hazeltine remains to be seen but for Walker, the death of Palmer will cast a shadow over the three days of Cup competition because of his massive impact on the game. "He really changed the game for the better, made it much more popular," said Walker, a six-times winner on the PGA Tour who clinched his first major title in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in July.
"He probably helped grow the game more than any person that's ever played. That's huge. And he made it cool. He was a cool guy, a cool golfer." The 41st Ryder Cup begins on Friday with the opening foursomes matches.