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Golf innovator Fred Raphael dies

Fred Raphael, one of golf's brightest innovators, passed away Tuesday at the age of 80 after a long battle with liver cancer.

Raphael is credited with developing the long-running "Shell's Wonderful World of Golf" series. The Emmy Award-winning show featured 18-hole matches from different countries around the world with the game's greatest players, including Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

"Everyone associated with the PGA Tour joins with his family and many friends in mourning the passing of Fred Raphael," said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. "Fred's vision and creativity were instrumental to the worldwide growth of interest in golf, first through the 'Shell's Wonderful World of Golf' series, and later as the founder of Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, which served as such an important catalyst for the formation of the Senior PGA Tour."

In 1978, Raphael was instrumental in creating the Legends of Golf. First played at Onion Creek Country Club in Austin, Texas and aired on NBC, it inspired the creation of the Senior PGA Tour two years later. With the support of Liberty Mutual, the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf is currently the Senior Tour's second-oldest event, having been played for the 24th time in March.

After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Raphael launched his business career in 1951 at J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York City. In 1958, he joined Filmways, an international television production company. Shortly after his arrival, Shell Oil Company awarded Filmways a contract to produce Shell's Wonderful World of Golf.

Raphael is survived by his five children and three grandchildren.

"In addition to his many direct contributions to golf, Fred was an outstanding individual who cared deeply about the game and all the people in it," added Finchem. "Everyone involved in golf today owes him an important debt of gratitude, and he will be missed as an important part of the fabric of the sport."

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