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Gary Player. Professional Golfer, South Africa.
Gary Player (1935-) is a professional golfer. With nine major championship victories as well as nine victories on the Champions Tour, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of golf. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. Player has won 165 tournaments on six continents over six decades. He has logged more than 15 million travel miles, probably more than any other athlete. Dubbed the Black Knight, Mr. Fitness, and the International Ambassador of Golf, Player is a renowned golf course architect with more than 300 design projects throughout the world.
His business interests are represented by Black Knight International, which includes Gary Player Design, Player Real Estate, and Black Knight Enterprises, aspects of which include licensing, events, publishing, wine, apparel and memorabilia.
The Gary Player Stud Farm has received worldwide acclaim for breeding top thoroughbred race horses, including 1994 Epsom Derby entry Broadway Flyer. He operates The Player Foundation to promote underprivileged education around the world.
In 1983, The Player Foundation established the Blair Atholl School in Johannesburg which has facilities for more than 500 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. In 2008 it celebrated its 25th Anniversary with charity golf events in London, Palm Beach, Shanghai and Cape Town, bringing total funds raised to over US $30 million.
Gary Player was born in Johannesburg, the youngest of Harry and Muriel Player's three children. When he was eight his mother died from cancer. Although his father was often away from home, he managed to take out a loan to buy a set of clubs for Gary to begin playing. Virginia Park golf course is where Player first began his love affair with golf. At age 14 he played his first round of golf, parring the first three holes. At 16 he announced that he would become number one in the world and at 17 became a professional.
Player married Vivienne Verwey in 1957, four years after turning professional. They have six children: Jennifer, Marc, Wayne, Michele, Theresa and Amanda. He is also the grandfather of 21 grandchildren. Eldest son Marc owns and operates Black Knight International, which represents Player in all commercial activities, including endorsements, merchandising, golf course design and real estate development.
He is also the brother of renowned conservationist Dr. Ian Player who saved the white rhino from extinction.
Player is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the sport, ranking third with a total of 166 professional wins. Along with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus he is often referred to as one of "The Big Three" golfers. Along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, he is one of five players to win golf’s Career Grand Slam.
Player played regularly on the US PGA Tour from the late 1950s. He led the money list in 1961, and went on to accumulate 24 career titles. He has more victories than anyone else in the South African Open (13) and the Australian Open (7). He held the record for most victories in the World Match Play Championship, with five wins, from 1973 until 1991. Player was present in the top ten of Mark McCormack's world golf rankings from inception in 1968 until 1981.
He is the only player to win the British Open in three different decades. His first win, as a 23-year-old in 1959 at Muirfield, came after he double-bogeyed the last hole. In 1974, he became one of the few golfers in history to win two majors in the same season. In 1984, at the age of 48, he nearly became the oldest ever major champion, finishing second behind Lee Trevino at the PGA Championship. In the 1998 Masters he became the oldest golfer to make to the cut. Player credited this feat to his dedication to diet, health, practise and golf fitness.
Being South African, Player never played in the Ryder Cup in which American and European golfers compete. Player remarked: "The things I have seen in the Ryder Cup have disappointed me. You are hearing about hatred and war." He was no longer eligible when the Presidents Cup was established to give international players the opportunity to compete in a similar event, but he was non-playing captain of the International Team for the Presidents Cup in 2003, which was held on The Links at Fancourt in George. After 2003 ended in a tie, he was reappointed as captain for the 2005 Presidents Cup which his team lost 15.5 to 18.5. Player and Jack Nicklaus were appointed captains of their respective teams in Canada in 2007 which the US won.
In 2000 he was voted South Africa’s "Sportsman of the Century". In 1966, he was awarded the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given in recognition of sportsmanship in golf. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. The "Gary Player — A Global Journey" exhibition was launched by the Hall of Fame in 2006.
In 2000, Player was ranked as the eighth greatest golfer of all time by Golf Digest magazine. In 2002 he was voted the second greatest golfer of all time by Golf Asia Magazine.
On 10 April 2009, he played in The Masters for a record 52nd time. He was the last of The Big Three (Nicklaus, Player & Palmer) to retire from this tournament, a testament to his longevity. In 2009 at age 73 Player competed in the Senior British Open Championship at Sunningdale Golf Club. RSAGP
1135/1%Last update: 2014-03-30 20:31
Author: Alan McIver
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