Nicklaus: Palmer more than a golfer - he was an icon, a legend

Jack Nicklaus has expressed his shock at the death of Arnold Palmer and hailed him a sporting "icon".

Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player were branded 'The Big Three' from the 1960s onwards as they dominated golf. 

Palmer won seven majors in total - Nicklaus claimed 18 and Player nine - and passed away on Sunday at the age of 87. 

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Nicklaus said: "He was one of my best friends, closest friends, and he was for a long, long time. I will miss him greatly.

"Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even great golfer. He was an icon. He was a legend. 

"Arnold was someone who was a pioneer in his sport. 

"He took the game from one level to a higher level, virtually by himself. Along the way, he had millions of adoring fans--Barbara and I among them. 

"We were great competitors, who loved competing against each other, but we were always great friends along the way. 

"Arnold always had my back, and I had his. We were always there for each other. That never changed.

"He was the king of our sport and always will be. I was shocked to hear that we lost a great friend--and that golf lost a great friend."

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