Monday, November 16, 2009


Gary Player didn't take up the game of golf until he was 14. He turned professional in 1953 at age 18 and quickly won several times in Africa, Europe and Australia. In 1957, he came to America, and upon seeing how far the game's best professionals hit the ball, intensified his exercise regimen, weakened his hooker's grip and set about learning how to carry the ball farther. The next year he won the Kentucky Derby Open and was heartened by a second-place finish at the U.S. Open, where his idol, Ben Hogan, locked him with a stare and said, "Son, you are going to be a great player."
(World Golf Hall of Fame)

Gary Player Autographed Photo
From Golf Links to the Past, Inc


MR. GARY PLAYER was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1935. At the very young age of 8, Mr. Player lost his mother. With the passing of his mother and his father working a very labor intensive job in the gold mines of South Africa, young Player was watched after by an African American man that would encourage play and exercise outside after school. A rather small child growing up, Mr. Player recalls the day when his older brother left for WWII to fight along side US forces. He told his younger brother Gary that he “must exercise to get bigger.” Of course, a little brotherly rivalry never hurts either, so with the loss of his mother, his father working in the gold mines to make ends meet, his sister in boarding school and his brother off helping America in the war, young Gary Player, worked hard at school, played outside and truly began exercising at the young age of 9.
(Golf Fitness Magazine, Inc.)
When he travelled to England in 1955, he was told that he did not have what it took to become a successful golfer and advised to seek another career. That was just the sort of challenge which appealed to Player who just one year later returned to Britain to win the Dunlop Masters in Sunningdale. In the same year, he won the first of 13 South African Opens.

Gary Player, 1965
Brian Farrell Photo

Gary Player with Jack Nicklaus at the 1965 Thunderbird Classic
Gary Player (2nd place finisher) & Jack Nicklaus(Champion)
1965 Thunderbird Classic at Westchester Country Club in Rye, NY.
From Historic Golf Photos

In April 1978, for a long while the Masters Tournament sat quietly and drearily under strange clouds of pollen that turned everything from golf shoes to rent cars the color of oatmeal instead of wisteria. But if there were those who wondered if the event would ever get out from under its cloud, they were obviously unfamiliar with Masters Sundays. Once again, the classic exploded like a Confederate arsenal-as it usually does, as the back nine holes of the Augusta National course are designed for it to do. And when the smoke had cleared, it was utterly amazing to realize that Gary Player had practically leaped out of an antique photo album to win. What Player did was come from South Africa, middle age, seven strokes behind and 10th place to take the title away in a single afternoon when, starting off the day, he might have been among the last guys you would ever have wanted to own in the office pool. Gary did it with a flaming 64, eight under par, that enabled him to finish the tournament with an 11-under-par 277 and win a wild battle by one stroke over defending champion Tom Watson, Hubert Green and Rod Funseth. But while there were some magnificent shots struck out there among the pines and ponds and shadows, it looked much of the time like the world's greatest game of miniature golf.
(By Dan Jenkins, April 17, 1978 at CNN/Sports Illustrated)
The Major Championships, often referred to simply as The Majors, are the four most prestigious annual tournaments in professional golf. The Majors consist of the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open (Open Championship), and the PGA Championship. Gary Player has won nine Major championships on the regular tour, making him the third player in the game’s history to win the career Grand Slam.

1959 British Open
1961 Masters
1962 PGA Championship
1965 U.S. Open
1968 British Open
1972 PGA Championship
1974 British Open
1974 Masters
1978 Masters
1986 Senior PGA Championship
1987 Senior TPC
1987 US Senior Open
1988 Senior British Open
1988 Senior PGA Championship
1988 US Senior Open
1990 Senior British Open
1990 Senior PGA Championship
1997 Senior British Open
(Black Knight International)

Other achievements:

• Named South African Sportsman of the Century in 2000
• Player is the only modern golfer to win The British Open in three different decades
• Oldest Player to make the cut at The Masters in 1998
• Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of St. Andrews in 1995
• Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award (2003) for dedication to charity
• Awarded the Order of Ikhamanga (in gold) by President Mbeki of South Africa for excellence in golf and contribution to non-racial sport in S. Africa
• 2006 Payne Stewart Award from the PGA Tour in recognition of philanthropic achievements and the exemplary manner in which he has conducted himself on and off the golf course
• Three-time Presidents Cup Captain – 2003, 2005 and 2007
(Black Knight International)

Players who have won all 4 major events
Grand Slam Champions
Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods & Gary Player
From Golf Links to the Past, Inc

A true legend of golf, Gary Player has won more than 160 titles worldwide and is one of only four golfers ever to have triumphed in the Grand Slam, (all four Major Championships.) Commonly regarded as the best bunker player of all time, he is famed for his extraordinary work ethic and his emphasis on fitness. Always dressed in black, the "Black Knight" has, by and large, lived up to his claim that "the harder I practice, the luckier I get".
He is also the most successful global golfer ever to play the game. He has collected 42 senior and regular tour wins in the United States, 73 on the European Tour and 34 on the Australian Tour. In addition, he has won in Japan, Canada and South America. He has traveled more miles than any other sportsman in history and is recognized as the "International Ambassador of Golf."
A man of strong religious belief, he won his first tournament in the United Kingdom in 1956 and was playing on the US Tour by the following year. He won his first Major title in The British Open Championship at Muirfield in 1959 when he came back from eight shots off the lead at the halfway stage.
Player then made golfing history in 1965 when his US Open victory at Bellerive enabled him to complete the coveted Grand Slam of all four Majors (following in the footsteps of Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, and joined later by Jack Nicklaus.)
In all, Player has won nine Major titles: three US Masters, three British Opens, two PGA championships and the United States Open crown. In fact, he is the only player to win the British Open Championship in three different decades. He joined the Senior Tour in 1985 and has since won 23 times including nine Senior Majors, three PGA Seniors championships, two US Senior Opens, three Senior British Opens and the Senior Players Championship title.

Gary Player, 2008
Author Lady 11390
From Wikipedia

Professional Achievements:
The winner of 164 tournaments world-wide, over five decades, Player is regarded as one of the greatest players in golf history.

A Golfing Great:
Regular Tour scoring average of 70.3 (lowest - 68.9)
Senior Tour scoring average of 70.4 (lowest - 68.3)
Over $14 million in combined worldwide earnings
Victories in 27 consecutive years, ten years more than the second best
The World’s Most Traveled Athlete™ with over 13 million air miles

Winning Tradition:
Winner of golf’s Grand Slam, one of only five golfers ever to do so, at the age of 29
Winner of nine Majors on the Regular PGA Tour, with a total of 44 top ten finishes, including five second place and three third place finishes
Winner of nine Majors on the Senior PGA Tour, with a total of 29 top ten finishes, including two second place and six third place finishes
Only winner of the Grand Slam on both the Regular and Senior Tours
Winner of the South African Open a record thirteen times
Winner of the Australian Open a record seven times
Winner of the World Match Play Championship a record five times
Winner of the World Series of Golf three times
Winner of the World Cup for South Africa once and of the individual title twice
Winner of tournaments in 28 consecutive years, eleven more that the next best placed
One of only three golfers, and the only “modern day” player, to win the British Open Championship in three different decades

Other Professional Achievements:
Oldest player to make the cut at the Open Championship (age 59 in 1995)
Oldest player to make the cut at the Masters (age 62 in 1998)
Holds the records for most consecutive cuts made at the Masters with 23
Ranked by Golf Digest, Golf and Asian Golf magazines in Top 10 All-Time Greatest Golfers Ever
Holder of tournament lowest round record in the USPGA Championship (63 at Shoal Creek G.C. in 1984)
Shot 59, the lowest ever score in professional golf, in the 1974 Brazilian Open, the only sub-60 score in any national Open Championship
Leading money winner on the PGA TOUR in 1961
Entered his 47th consecutive British Open in 2001
(Black Knight International)

Professional Stats:
Turned Professional: 1953
Joined PGA Tour: 1957
Joined Champions Tour: 1985
Low Professional Round: 59
Career Championships: 164
Worldwide Career Earnings: Over $14 million
Holes-in-one during official tournaments

Champions Tour Victories:
1985 Quadel Seniors Classic
1986 General Foods PGA Seniors Championship, United Hospital Classic, Denver Post Champions
1987 Mazda Senior TPC, US Senior Open, PaineWebber World Seniors Invitational
1988 General Foods PGA Seniors Championship, Aetna Challenge, Southwestern Bell Classic, US Senior Open, GTE North Classic
1989 GTE North Classic, RJR Championship
1990 PGA Seniors Championship
1991 Royal Caribbean Classic
1993 Bank One Senior Classic
1995 Bank One Senior Classic
1998 Northville Long Island Classic
(Black Knight International)

Whenever you hear a story about the great Gary Player, it seems there is always some impressive number attached to him. He's traveled over 14 million miles, won 163 golf tournaments worldwide, earned a victory in all four US PGA Tour majors.
The 71-year-old South African has competed in 49 Masters and even bettered his age by shooting a 69 on the Champions Tour last year.
But perhaps the most extraordinary of all is this magic number-- 50. On January 19th, that's how long Player and his wife, Vivienne, have been married. Through all the years, the miles, the wins and losses, and the kids -- six children plus 18 grandchildren and counting -- the couple have spent over five decades madly in love.
HIKING a small mountain behind his home in South Africa before the crack of dawn, working out for an hour and a half in his home gym, swimming and ranching until dusk, are typical of a day in the life of Mr. Player--- when he is at home that is.
(Golf Fitness Magazine, Inc.)
Mr. Fitness and the International Ambassador of Golf, Gary Player is also a renowned golf course architect with over 250 design projects throughout the world.
His Black Knight International includes Gary Player Real Estate, Gary Player Design and Gary Player Enterprises - aspects of which include licensing, publishing, videos, wine, apparel and memorabilia.
Gary Player Stud Farm has received worldwide acclaim for breeding top thoroughbred race horses including 1994 English Derby entry Broadway Flyer.
The Player Foundation built the Blair Atholl Schools in Johannesburg, South Africa which has educational facilities for over 500 students from kindergarten through grade eight. Its primary is objective to promote underprivileged education around the world. In 2008 the school celebrated it's 25th anniversary with charity events in London, Miami, Shanghai and Cape Town, bringing it's total of funds raised to over $30 million.
(IMG Speakers)

Gary Player and Ernie Els of South Africa
A practice round prior to the 2009 Masters Tournament
Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2009
Augusta, Georgia
From Getty Images

Gary Player celebrates on the 9th hole for par
Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer look on
Par 3 Contest prior to the 2009 Masters Tournament
Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2009
Augusta, Georgia
From Getty Images

The Gary Player Cup
displayed during the final round
World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational
August 9, 2009 at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio
From Getty Images

Gary Player acknowledges applause from the crowd
11th green during his last round
Masters Golf Tounament at Augusta National Golf Club
This was his 52nd Masters, having played his first in 1957
Photo by Michael Holahan/Staff
From The Augusta Chronicle

Gary Player of South Africa waves to the gallery
Second round of the Masters Tournament
Friday, April 10, 2009
Photo by Associated Press
From The Augusta Chronicle

After making his final ascent up the hill to the 18th green
Gary Player takes a knee to say a prayer thanks
while being welcomed with thunderous applause
Final hole of his last round at the Masters Golf Tounament
Friday April 10, 2009
Photo by Kendrick Brinson/Special
From Getty Images

"I'll never forget that as long as I live," Gary Player said
Photo by Michael Holahan/Staff
From Golf Links to the Past, Inc

Gary Player could be brash in a fraternity where a tactful tongue was sacred. Five-foot-7, he exercised fanatically and adhered to a rigorous, nutritious diet that kept him at 150 pounds and with a 31-inch waist throughout his career, proving that not all golfers had paunches, that they could be a little athletic. He displayed a resiliency and a durability that kept him collecting championships for five decades.
That Player wore the same color clothes every time he competed, earning him the nickname "The Black Knight," was merely the most outward sign of his uniqueness. In the days when Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus dominated the PGA Tour, Player was sui generis because he was forever close behind them -- when he was not beating them, that is.

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