But Nicklaus made it clear who was the king of golf on Tuesday when he paid tribute to his friend of six decades at a memorial for Palmer in Latrobe, Pa.
"He was the king of our sport, and he always will be," Nicklaus said during the ceremony at Saint Vincent Basilica. "Like the great (broadcaster) Vin Scully, when he called his last game Sunday night for the Dodgers: 'Don't be sad because it's over. Smile because it happened.'
"Today I hurt, just like you hurt. You don't lose a friend of over 60 years and not feel an enormous loss. But like my wife always says, 'The memories are the cushions of life.'"
Palmer died on Sept. 25 at the age of 87, due to complications from heart disease at a hospital in Pittsburgh.
The speakers shared stories and anecdotes from Palmer's life -- all designed to shed light on a legend who transcended his sport and remained hugely popular until the end of his life.
The words of Nicklaus stood out as the two legends were fierce competitors who were able to develop a long-term friendship.
"We competed in everything, from majors to endorsements. You name it, we likely competed for it," Nicklaus said. "But if there was ever a problem, I knew Arnold had my back, and he knew I had his. You don't lose a friend of almost 60 years and not feel an enormous loss.
"But remember when Arnold Palmer touched your life and touched your heart and please don't forget why."
Fowler, part of the U.S. team that won the Ryder Cup on Sunday, brought the trophy to the ceremony.
One of the other speakers was golfer Sam Saunders, the grandson of Palmer. Saunders spoke about the real-life Palmer and the description didn't seem much different than the version beloved by Americans.
"My memories of him as a grandfather are here in Latrobe," Saunders said. "It wasn't watching him win golf tournaments. It was watching him ride sleds down the hill. Those are the memories we got to see.
"We all had the opportunity to see Arnie the legend, the golfer. But we had the unique opportunity to see him at home, in cutoff sweatpants. We loved that man as much as you loved the man you saw on TV. There wasn't a big difference."
Palmer won 62 tournaments, including seven majors, in his stellar career. He recorded four victories at the Masters, won two British Opens and one U.S. Open. Palmer was voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
In 2004, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2012 was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, giving him both of the highest honors the United States can give to a civilian.