4 April 2007
When Gary Player tees off at the US Masters at Augusta on Thursday, he will be playing in the major for a record-equalling 50th time.
Player will become only the second golfer to reach the magic number in the tournament, following in the footsteps of Arnold Palmer, who played it exactly 50 times.
Player doesn’t want to stop at 50, however; he reckons he would love to compete in the Masters one more time in 2008.
He first contested the Masters in 1957 and won it three times, in 1961, 1974 and 1978. When he won in 1961, he became the first non-American winner of the event. In the 1978 tournament, a final round eight-under-par 64 saw him come from seven strokes back to snatch a stunning victory at age 43.
In recognition of the 71-year-old’s achievement, the World Golf Hall of Fame in St Augustine, Florida has been running a special exhibit, “Gary Player: A Global Journey”, that explores Player’s impact on the game through personal memorabilia, artifacts, videos and images.
Jack Peter, the Hall’s chief operating officer, said the exhibit had been extremely well-received since it opened last year, “and we look forward to continuing to tell [Player’s] story.”
Player was inducted into golf’s Hall of Fame in 1974.
163 tournament wins
During Player’s career he won nine majors and 163 tournaments. Jack Nicklaus, who is widely regarded as the greatest player ever, secured 18 majors and 113 titles in all, 50 wins shy of Player.
The World Golf Village website quotes Nicklaus as saying: “I don’t think Gary was a great driver of the golf ball. I don’t think he was a great iron player. He was a good putter, not a great putter.
“But when he really needed to be, he was a great driver, and a great iron player, and he made the putt when he needed to make it. Gary, as much as anyone I ever saw, has that thing inside him that champions have.”