Arnold Palmer, one of the greatest golfers ever to pick up a club and the object of a massive fan base that called itself “Arnie’s Army” as he recorded seven major victories, died Sunday at 87 in Pittsburgh, according to the United States Golf Association.
Alastair Johnson, CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, told the Associated Press that Palmer died Sunday afternoon of complications from heart problems. Johnson said Palmer was admitted to the hospital Thursday for some cardiovascular work and weakened over the last few days.
Born in Latrobe, Pa., Palmer’s endearing personality and skill on the links earned him the nickname “The King,” during a career whose beginning coincided with the birth of television sports. Along the way, he became one of the wealthiest celebrity endorsers, a philanthropist, golf course designer and pilot.
Palmer’s long string of victories on the PGA tour began in 1955, and he became one of the sport’s most recognizable personalities, along with Jack Nicklaus. Palmer’s charismatic personality also made him a sought after pitchman, for several products, perhaps most famously Quaker State motor oil.
“Arnold Palmer was the everyday man’s hero,” Nicklaus said. “From the modest upbringing, Arnold embodied the hard-working strength of America.”