While other golfers enjoyed more success on the links, it can easily be argued that no golfer did more to raise the profile of professional golf as a global sport than Arnold Palmer, who passed away Sunday at the age of 87.
Originally from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Palmer played golf at Wake Forest University and won the 1954 U.S. Amateur Championship.
He turned professional in 1955 and the 25-year-old rookie quickly displayed his ability by claiming the Canadian Open championship. In 1958 he earned his first major with a one-stroke victory at the Masters and went on to be the PGA Tour money leader for the year.
After again winning the Masters in 1960, he claimed his only U.S. Open title with an epic performance at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado.
At a time when the third and fourth (final) rounds were played on the same day, Palmer entered the final round trailing leader Mike Souchak by seven strokes. Also ahead of him were golfing legend Ben Hogan and amateur Jack Nicklaus, both three strokes off the lead.
Arnold’s Army began to grow during the afternoon as he peppered the course with great golf shots while his opponents started to struggle amidst his charge. Palmer registered a final round 65 (six under par) and ended the tournament two strokes ahead of Nicklaus and four ahead of Souchak and five others.
It would prove to be the only U.S. Open victory for Palmer as he lost three other times in a playoff.
Later in 1960, Palmer began growing his international legacy by traveling to Scotland to play in the British Open at a time when few Americans participated in the tournament. Though his hopes of winning the golf grand slam ended with a one-stroke loss to Kel Nagle, Palmer planted the seeds for future American success in the legendary tournament. Read the rest of this entry →