Ryder Cup tributes set for Palmer as US seeks boost
Chaska (United States) (AFP)
Arnold Palmer will be remembered with a moment of silence and video at Thursday's opening ceremony for the 41st Ryder Cup, in which US players hope to draw inspiration from the legend.
Palmer, who died Sunday of heart issues at age 87, was a 1960s golf star whose charm and skills helped make him the first US celebrity sportsman endorser, spawning in many ways the modern global golf scene and the US and Europe stars who open competition Friday at Hazeltine.
"We're still working on the details," US captain Davis Love said Monday. "The PGA Tour and the Palmer family created a logo and an Arnie's Army mention and I think there are going to be buttons for the fans and pins for the players.
"Both teams are going to do the same thing and honor the family wishes for whatever they would like to see us wearing. Both our teams want to honor the Palmer legacy in the same way."
Palmer, six times a Cup-winning player, will appear in more US locker room photos this week and Love declared, "We are definitely going to draw inspiration from his spirit."
But he and Europe captain Darren Clarke downplayed the notion of the Americans being more inspired to win the Cup this week as a tribute to Palmer, the US group having plenty of motivation after losing three Ryder Cups in a row and six of the past seven.
"It's almost like we are all dealing with the loss of a family member and how is that going to affect both teams over the next few days," Love said.
"These guys from the European team, they respected and loved (Palmer) and played in his tournament in Orlando and were under the same influence of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus just like they were the great players from the other side of the pond.
"It has got to settle in a little bit. There are a lot of times I'm just sitting alone and tear up, so who knows how it's going to play out for an inspiration."
Clarke agreed that Palmer's death impacts his players as well.
"He will be missed. He was a lot of those guys' heroes as well," Clarke said. "He was a global superstar. He transcended our sport. We are as shocked and saddened over Arnold's passing as everybody else."
Clarke said Europe's current win streak has little meaning either given six of his 12-man roster are first-time Ryder Cup starters.
- Win streak 'irrelevant' -
"I think it's irrelevant going into this week," Clarke said. "We have had different scenarios going on in past Ryder Cups and this is a totally different one under the shadow of Mr. Palmer passing away."
Clarke, a 48-year-old from Northern Ireland, and many of his players learned of Palmer's death after watching teammate Rory McIlroy win the Tour Championship.
"It sort of puts into perspective a lot of things," Clarke said. "Our sport wouldn't be where it is without Mr. Palmer. He was a very proud American, very patriotic towards the Ryder Cup, but more than that he was a global superstar and inspired people all over the world."
An iconic sports figure will speak to the European squad, probably on Tuesday, as a way to begin firing up the squad for the matches.
"Much has been said about guys coming in to speak to the teams and inspiring them and charging them up," Clarke said. "Davis' team is probably the same as our team -- they don't really need to be fired up."
Love said that the US team has developed locker room leaders in Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth -- all past Masters winners -- and warned he hasn't seen anything like the bonds and preparation of this US side and his time with the team goes back to 1993.
"We're heavy on leadership and heavy on passion," Love said. "I don't think we've ever been as pumped up and as organized and as together as a family as this group."
© 2016 AFP