Seeing Arnold Palmer for the first time gave me goosebumps the size of eggs. He was The King and it felt like meeting Elvis

Sam Torrance
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Arnold Palmer
Palmer, who passed away on Sunday aged 87, won seven Major championships (Source: Getty)

I still vividly remember the first time I saw Arnold Palmer in the flesh. It was at my first Open Championship, at Muirfield in 1972, and it gave me goosebumps the size of eggs.

I was practising on the putting green and on he walked, a seven-time Major winner who was tanned a deep shade of bronze and swathed in cashmere. He was an awe-inspiring figure.

He was The King, and it felt like meeting Elvis. He would never walk past you without saying hello and I was fortunate enough to go on to become friends with the great man.

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A measure of the standing he was held in is that one of the biggest incentives for winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his annual tournament at Bay Hill, was getting a handshake from Arnie himself.

Arnold Palmer and Sam Torrance at the UBS Warburg Cup
Palmer and Sam Torrance share a joke at the UBS Warburg Cup in 2002 (Source: Getty)

It is difficult to do justice to his enormous contribution to golf, as one of the great players and a wonderful ambassador for the game.

We are all deeply moved by his passing – he was a hero and a legend – and the timing will lend extra poignancy to this week’s Ryder Cup.

Sublime McIlroy

Once thoughts turn back to matters on the course, Rory McIlroy will reflect on a sublime performance to win the Tour Championship and claim the FedEx Cup on Sunday night.

Rory showed signs of being back to his very best in a final round of 64 which included an eagle at 16, before brilliantly fighting off Ryan Moore and Kevin Chappell in a three-man play-off.

TOUR Championship - Final Round
McIlroy's victory at the Tour Championship on Sunday night was his second in three events and earned him the $10m FedEx Cup first prize (Source: Getty)

McIlroy’s second win from three events, following his success at the Deutsche Bank Championship earlier this month, suggests he is in peak form for taking on the United States at the Ryder Cup.

That is an enormous boost for our team, which now boasts the current champions of the Open (Henrik Stenson), the Masters (Danny Willett), the Olympics (Justin Rose) and now the FedEx Cup.

For Rory to see off a few American challengers for the Tour Championship and the $10m FedEx Cup bonus over the weekend, just days before we begin Europe’s defence of the Ryder Cup, makes it even sweeter.

Moore the merrier

Those of us staff and players who were not already Stateside flew out on Monday as the countdown continues. On Tuesday we will get the chance to begin practising at Hazeltine, with play starting on Friday.

Moore’s performance in pushing McIlroy all the way at the Tour Championship was enough to persuade United States captain Davis Love III to make him his final captain’s pick.

It must be disappointing for Bubba Watson, who looked set to get the nod, but Moore thoroughly deserved to be chosen for a debut.

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