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Masters Honors Arnold Palmer at Opening Ceremony

Image: Masters Honors Arnold Palmer at Opening Ceremony

Jack Nicklaus waves his cap to the sky to commemorate late Arnold Palmer before taking his honorary first tee shot for the start of the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, on April 6, 2017, as Gary Player (L) looks on. (Kyodo via AP Images)

By    |   Friday, 07 Apr 2017 11:04 AM

The opening of the 81st Masters included tributes honoring the late Arnold Palmer at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday morning.

Legendary golfers Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit ceremonial shots, with Nicklaus standing on the first tee, removing his cap and looking up to the sky, paying homage to Palmer, who died in September, USA Today noted.

Masters Chairman Billy Payne escorted Palmer’s widow, Kit, to the first tee, but he had something very special with him: Palmer’s green jacket – a jacket the golfer was awarded after all four of his wins at the Masters tournament (’58, ’60, ’62, ’64), according to Golf Week.

Payne laid the green jacket on the back of an empty white chair in honor of Palmer.

“As he would walk to this very tee for this ceremony we would point and shout above the cheers to our kids and grandkids, ‘Look look, it’s Arnold Palmer!’ And the kids would radiate smiles because they knew they were seeing a legend,” Payne said.

“And you know what? He would always smile back. That’s the Arnold Palmer we remember, we miss and we’ll forever love,” he added.

“This is a wonderful and difficult day,” Payne said, according to USA Today. “Arnold Palmer was more than a King. He was my friend. He was your friend.”

Both Nicklaus and Player were close friends of Palmer, despite being great competitors on the golf course.

Their friendship went beyond their playing days on the course.

“There will be other big threes. But I don’t know if you’ll ever have another big three that will live together like we did,” Player said. “It was a very, very unusual time in history, and it will be interesting to see if there is again. And it was a privilege and we all appreciated each other, which was a great friendship. It’s hard to be highly competitive against people and have a great friendship. And yet I sit here today and Jack Nicklaus is my best friend in the world.”

“The popularity of the game was really stimulated by Arnold,” Nicklaus said. “The Masters made Arnold in many ways because of his wins in ’58, ’60, ’62, and ’64; but the other way around, I think Arnold made the Masters. Arnold put the Masters on the map and with his rise and his popularity, the Masters rose the same. I think they were both very good for each other and very synonymous with each other.”

In his illustrious career, Palmer won seven major championships and finished fifth on the PGA tours’ win list with 62 total victories.

Twitter users remembered the golf legend.

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The opening of the 81st Masters included tributes honoring the late Arnold Palmer at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday morning.
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2017-04-07
Friday, 07 Apr 2017 11:04 AM
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