“The best friend golf ever had”: Tom Watson remembers golf legend Arnold Palmer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Golf legend Arnold Palmer died on Sunday in Pittsburgh at the age of 87, and  local golf hero Tom Watson, who knew him well, shares some of his favorite memories of the man he says was his idol and friend.

18 JUL 1995: TOM WATSON OF THE USA AND COUNTRYMAN ARNOLD PALMER SHARE A JOKE ON THE 18TH GREEN DURING THE PRACTICE ROUND OF THE 1995 OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS ON THE OLD COURSE AT ST. ANDREWS, FIFE, SCOTLAND. Mandatory Credit: Anton Want/ALLSPORT

18 JUL 1995: TOM WATSON OF THE USA AND COUNTRYMAN ARNOLD PALMER SHARE A JOKE ON THE 18TH GREEN DURING THE PRACTICE ROUND OF THE 1995 OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS ON THE OLD COURSE AT ST. ANDREWS, FIFE, SCOTLAND. Mandatory Credit: Anton Want/ALLSPORT

"It's a sad day for the world of golf," Watson said. "Everywhere around the globe is talking about Arnold Palmer."

Golf Digest reported Palmer’s death shortly before 7:30 p.m., on Sunday night.

Watson said he heard of Palmer's passing when their mutual doctor friend called him crying.

Palmer was an American professional golfer, who is generally regarded as “golf’s greatest ambassador.” He won several events on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour.

"Arnold had a passion, and a humility, and a patience for those around him," Watson said. " He signed every autograph ever asked of him."

Palmer won the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998 and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

 Watson referred to Palmer as a father-figure  and added, "I called him, 'The best friend golf ever had.'"

Watson said when he was 15-years old he was invited to play in a exhibition with Palmer in Kansas City at Brookridge County Club.

"It was a wonderful day," Watson said. "I got there about three hours in advanced, getting ready for the event. Just to meet and play golf with my idol."

Watson adds that Palmer had the reputation for going for broke.

"If he had the chance to win the tournament, he'd take the risky route rather than play if safe," Watson said.

Watson described Palmer as a man of the people.

"People loved to be around Arnold Palmer," he said.

Watch the video above for more memories from Watson.