(REUTERS/AFP) - Arnold Palmer, one of golf's greatest players whose immense popularity drew a legion of fans known as "Arnie's Army" and helped propel the game just as television was coming of age, died on Sunday (Sept 25) at the age of 87, the US Golf Association (USGA) and golf media reported.
A greenskeeper's son who helped transform golf from an elite game to a sport for the common man, Palmer attended Wake Forest University on a golf scholarship and did a stint in the US Coast Guard.
His career included 62 titles on the PGA Tour, which he savvily translated into a business empire that left him with an estimated net worth of US$675 million (S$917 million), according to USA Today.
Palmer also received the highest US civilian honours in his lifetime, being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012.
He became iconic in popular culture and is known for the soft drink named after him, which consists of iced tea and lemonade in equal parts.
"We are deeply saddened by the death of Arnold Palmer, golf's greatest ambassador, at age 87," the USGA said on Twitter.
Palmer was predeceased by his first wife Winifred, and is survived by second wife Kit, two daughters, and six grandchildren, Golfweek reported.