All hail the King!

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:16 AM ET

It's an argument that can't be won or lost but is hashed over daily in clubhouses around the world: Who are the 10 best golfers of all time?

Obviously, there's no definitive answer yet a handful of fairway legends belong on any knowledgeable golfer's list.

Sun sports writer Dan Toth asked Calgary's Stephen Ames, who has played professionally around the world, to offer up his all-time greats.

The native of Trinidad and Tobago, who gained his Canadian citizenship a year ago, has been fortunate enough to tee it up with a couple of the golf gods who earned a place on his honour roll.

Who Ames selected -- and why -- will be revealed in this special 10-part series.

In no particular order, here are the golfers Ames most admires:

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#1 JACK NICKLAUS

#2 BOBBY JONES

#3 BEN HOGAN

#4 BYRON NELSON

#5 WALTER HAGEN

#6 TIGER WOODS

#7 NICK FALDO

#8 TOM WATSON

#9 ARNOLD PALMER

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NO. 9

ARNOLD PALMER

Born -- Sept. 10, 1929, Latrobe, Pa.

Nickname -- The King.

Majors -- U.S. Open (1960); Masters (1958, 60, 62, 64); British Open (1961, 62).

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Arnold Palmer's rise to legendary status was perfectly synchronized with the development of televised golf in the early 1960s.

While Palmer was slashing his way to major titles, millions of golf fans at home were falling love with the folk hero whose common touch could be transmitted via the airwaves.

Palmer could be seen drawing on a smoke, flicking the butt to the ground before hitching his pants and delivering a mighty wallop.

Much like baseball's home-run sluggers, he became a blue-collar hero.

Warmly regarded as The King, Palmer won seven majors including four Masters.

He also annually hosts the PGA Tour's Bay Hill Invitational and remains one of the game's most popular figures, drawing massive galleries everywhere he plays.

His down-to-earth demeanor has made him one of the most accessible sports legends of all time.

"It is amazing at his age he brings a flock of fans wherever he goes," says Calgary's PGA Tour star Stephen Ames, who's currently in the hunt at Palmer's Bay Hill event.

"That's just the kind of guy he is. He's a phenomenal guy. You wouldn't think he's a golfer. Just a great, warm person to be around. A lot of the guys go to Bay Hill because of him, same with the Byron Nelson and Muirfield with Nicklaus. They respect those guys for what they've done, what they achieve.

"The galleries around him are almost as big as Tiger's. The charisma he has, kind of like Seve Ballesteros. Slashing it out of the woods, go for broke kind of thing. Very exciting to watch."

Ames points to an aging Palmer hitting a driver off the fairway at Bay Hill's 18th as a sign of his enduring charisma.

"Driver into the last hole of Bay Hill?" Ames remarks. "You maybe have only

20 feet of grass to work with and to run a driver up into there? That's exciting. Here's a 74 year-old man taking a driver and hitting it into that green? There's charisma there. That's exciting, isn't it? That's what made him that way."

Palmer's rise to stardom helped golf blossom as a recreation for weekend duffers while also growing PGA Tour purses, a byproduct of increased TV ratings.

"Everybody feels a debt of gratitude towards him because he came in during the television era," Ames notes.

"He made golf a popular sport with the masses."

Palmer won 61 PGA Tour events, beginning with the 1955 Canadian Open before claiming 29 events in a four-year stretch between 1960-63.

Palmer's longevity, says Ames, is also a credit to what many call the game of a lifetime.

"With this game, you can play from three years old to 85 years old," Ames says.

"In trying to achieve something in the game during that lifetime, there's going to be times when your play is going to go down. Everyone goes through peaks and valleys in their golf games.

"The guys who control those ups and downs in the game of golf are the ones who achieve the most."

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WHO'S NO. 10 ON STEPHEN'S LIST?

FIND OUT TOMORROW IN THE SUN BUT HERE'S A HINT:

HE HAS WON THE BRITISH OPEN IN THREE DIFFERENT DECADES


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