The No. 3 is iconic in many facets of sports. It is notable in baseball, auto racing and golf.
In baseball, it marks the number of chances a hitter has to challenge the ability of a pitcher.
In auto racing, it relates to the number used by the seven-time Sprint Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr.
In the world of golf, it marks three names that set the standard of a game for all ages. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player earned this iconic label from Mark McCormack, founder of the International Management Group (IMG). The Palmer-Nicklaus-Player association developed into the so-called "Big Three" of golf.
Nicklaus set the bar by winning 18 major titles and 73 PGA Tour victories in his career. He established his own marketing company in the 1970s knowns as Golden Bear Inc.
Nicklaus finished his professional career at The Open Championship played at St Andrews on July 15, 2005. On "The Old Course," Nicklaus stated: "I'm very sentimental and the place gets to me every time I go there. In May, I walked around and welled up with hardly anyone watching me. St Andrews was always where I wanted to finish my major career."
The Black Knight was known as a dark hero in the medieval times, but this marquee was given to worldly-golfer Gary Player. Player is the youngest of the three iconic golfers at the tender age of 74.
Player has logged more than 15 million miles in travel, which is more than any other athlete. He has won nine majors in his career along with 73 wins on the PGA Tour. Player has won 165 tournaments on six continents over six decades. Player collected wins in Australia, Brazil, North Africa, West Africa, Canada, Japan and Latin America. At the age of 29, Player was the only non-American to win all four majors, known as the career Grand Slam.
His drive off the golf course is to fight underprivileged education around the world.
The third member of this legendary group has his own army. At the age of 84, Arnold Palmer established the game of golf as people see it today, and his fans are known as "Arnie's Army."
Palmer's persona molded the game into its current form. One of Palmer's friends, Bob Drumm, is known for establishing the term "Grand Slam." Drumm and Palmer established the slogan for the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. The only one of these majors Palmer failed to win was the PGA Championship.
He paved the way for so many golfers in the mid-1950s with his swagger, poise and ability. Tournaments paid little money for a win in those days, but Palmer set a standard that built the economic Mount Everest that players see each week in 2014. The PGA Tour prize pool is worth more than $350 million this year.
Palmer has passed on his wealth earned through his play and iconic promotional ability. He has paid for two hospitals, college scholarships at Wake Forest, designed several golf courses and holds the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill each year in March.
On Jan. 17, 1995, The Golf Channel was launched. The idea of a 24-hour golf network came from media entrepreneur Joseph E. Gibbs. Gibbs felt there was enough interest in golf among the public to support such a network. Gibbs and Palmer then secured $80 million in financing to launch the network.
These three legends have made their mark on a sport, culture and world in many ways. They gather each year to officially start the Masters. One day, year, decade or even century from now, people will still want to know more about the "Big Three."
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