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IRVING, Texas -- Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer led the tributes for golfing great Byron Nelson, who died at his ranch in Texas on Tuesday at the age of 94.
"He lived a long and rich life, and I think it is safe to say that for all that the game of golf did for Byron Nelson, he gave back to the game 10-fold," 18-times major champion Nicklaus said on his official Web site.
Nelson, a winner of five major titles, is best known for his golden run of form on the 1945 PGA Tour when he triumphed 18 times in 30 starts including an unprecedented 11 wins in a row.
Widely considered the straightest hitter of the ball in history, Nelson finished the year with an astonishing stroke average of 68.33 after 120 rounds.
Renowned for his generosity and chivalrous nature, Nelson was affectionately nicknamed 'Lord Byron'.
"Byron Nelson was, without question, one of the greatest players our game has seen. When you talk about people who provided the foundation for the modern game of golf, Bryon Nelson is one of the first names you must mention," added Nicklaus.
"I think the only thing that rivals Byron's greatness on a golf course is the manner in which he conducted his life -- as a gentleman, a role model and an ambassador."
Palmer, a seven-times major winner, said: "He was one of the great people of all time, in addition to being one of the greatest players who ever lived. His record speaks for itself.
"I don't think that anyone will ever exceed the things that Byron did by winning 11 tournaments in a row in one year.
"But, I suppose that is not the most admirable thing that he did, although it was certainly tremendous.
"He was a fantastic person whom I admired from the time I was a boy. He just did nothing during his long life but make great contributions to the game of golf and life itself."
Twice Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, a keen student of the game's history and traditions, said in a statement: "Apart from being one of the greatest players ever, Byron Nelson was always the epitome of a gentleman.
"His passing marks the end of arguably golf's most prolific era, which included the likes of Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. To my mind, Byron was possibly golf's most consistent player ever."
Tom Watson, whose career haul of eight major victories included five British Opens, was mentored by Nelson and the pair became good friends.
"For many Byron will be remembered for his incredible record as a professional golfer, including winning 11 tournaments in a row," Watson said.
"But he will be most remembered for the genuineness and gentleness he brought to all those around him. I will miss him, but I will always remember what he taught me."
Nelson will go down in history as one of the greatest-ever players in golf.