Arnold Palmer changed sports forever.

Not only was he a consummate professional and one of golf’s enduring superstars (he had 62 career victories and won seven majors), he was Rolex’s first testimonee in golf in 1967.

In fact, Palmer gave birth to the era of athlete endorsement and licensing. Palmer set the gold standard for activities outside of sport — take for instance, that in 2015 (remember, he retired from the sport in 1973), he made more than $40 million.

And now he is gone, and he will surely be missed.

“Rolex and Arnold Palmer maintained a privileged and warm relationship for nearly 50 years, working side by side to develop the game as it opened up to the world. He was an exceptional friend, a true sportsman and a real gentleman,” said Bertrand Gros, Chairman of Rolex, with whom Palmer had been active until recently. “Arnold Palmer was always an inspirational partner and we are forever grateful for the standard of excellence he set.”

Palmer was a trailblazer for golf and for sports in general, and without him, we wouldn’t have the tremendous success of athletes like Michael Jordan, David Beckham and LeBron James, outside of their fields of sport.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Palmer.

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