Nicklaus leads tributes to Palmer

NEW YORK • A tearful Jack Nicklaus led the tributes to Arnold Palmer on Tuesday as the golfing world gathered to bid farewell to the trailblazing icon who died last month at age 87.

A who's who of golf descended on the Saint Vincent Basilica in Palmer's Pennsylvania hometown of Latrobe at a memorial service to celebrate the life of the man known to millions as "The King".

Nicklaus, 76, was among friends and loved ones who addressed the congregation in the three-hour service, sharing memories of a more than 50-year friendship which began in the late 1950s. The 18-time Major winner choked back tears during an emotional tribute, describing Palmer as a golfer "who epitomised charisma".

"He was an everyday man, everyone's hero," he said. "Arnold managed to remove the 'I' from icon and instead let the world share in his greatness.

"Golf gave so much to Arnold but he gave back so much more. He appealed to everyone. He was the king of our sport, and he always will be."

Nicklaus addressed an audience containing some of the biggest names of golf spanning different eras, from Palmer contemporaries such as Lee Trevino through to Tom Watson, Nick Faldo and Ernie Els to the current crop of stars.

Palmer's close friend Charlie Mechem opened the tributes to the golf legend, whose fans were known as "Arnie's Army".

"This is the elite battalion of Arnie's Army, as it should be," he said.

US Ryder Cup stars Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler were among the crowd. Fowler and vice-captain Bubba Watson arrived clutching the Ryder Cup, which the US regained last weekend after three straight defeats.

"It's pretty cool to be able to bring it here today," Fowler said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline 'Nicklaus leads tributes to Palmer'. Print Edition | Subscribe