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Arnold Palmer honoured by British Open organizers

Arnold Palmer waves to the crowd as he stands on the 18th green during the Champion Golfers' Challenge tournament ahead of the British Open golf championship on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, July 15, 2015.

Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Organizers of the British Open paid tribute to Arnold Palmer on Monday for his "immeasurable" contribution to golf's oldest major, a tournament that he won twice in the early 1960s and helped bring to international prominence.

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the Royal & Ancient, called Palmer "a true gentleman, one of the greatest ever to play the game and a truly iconic figure in sport."

Palmer, who died Sunday in Pittsburgh at the age of 87, won seven majors, including the British Open in 1961 and '62. He last played the Open in 1995, 35 years after his first appearance.

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"His contribution to The Open Championship was, and remains, immeasurable," Slumbers said in a statement. "He will be missed and forever remembered by all at The R&A and throughout the world of golf as a charismatic and global champion of our game."

Palmer first played the British Open in 1960, finishing runner-up in what he later called one of the biggest disappointments of his career. But his appearance invigorated the British Open, which Americans had been ignoring for years.

"Without question Arnold's participation in The Open Championship in the early 1960s was the catalyst to truly internationalize golf," European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. "The fact he was loved and recognized by everyone across the globe, whether they be fans of golf or not, is testament to his charismatic legacy that will live on."

Palmer was made an honorary member of The European Tour in 1995.

"In this week of the playing of the 41st Ryder Cup in particular, we remember fondly his time as a six-time Ryder Cup player and two-time captain," Pelley said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time."

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