|Birth Day:||November 1, 1935|
|Birth Place:||Johannesburg, South Africa|
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His mother died and his father had to take a loan out to buy his son a set of golf clubs.
Player married wife Vivienne Verwey (sister of professional golfer Bobby Verwey) on 19 January 1957, four years after turning professional. Together they have six children: Jennifer, Marc, Wayne, Michele, Theresa and Amanda. He also has 22 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchild. During the early days of his career Player would travel from tournament to tournament with his wife, six children, their nanny and a tutor in tow.
He was the only player in the 20th century 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 major championships in the same season. Player last won the Masters in 1978, when he started seven strokes behind 54-hole leader Hubert Green entering the final round, and won by one shot with birdies at seven of the last 10 holes for a back nine 30 and a final round 64. One week later, Player again came from seven strokes back in the final round to win the Tournament of Champions. In 1984, at the age of 48 Player nearly became the oldest ever major champion, finishing in second place behind Lee Trevino at the PGA Championship. And in gusty winds at the 1998 Masters, he became the oldest golfer ever to make the cut, breaking the 25-year-old record set by Sam Snead. Player credited this feat to his dedication to the concept of diet, health, practice and golf fitness.
Player competed regularly on the U.S. based PGA Tour from the late 1950s. He led the Tour money list in 1961, and went on to accumulate 24 career Tour titles. He also played an exceptionally busy schedule all over the world, and he has been called the world's most traveled athlete. Player has logged more than 26 million km (16 million mi) in air travel – in 2005 it was estimated that he had "probably flown further…than any athlete in history".
The green jacket is reserved for Augusta National members and golfers who win the Masters Tournament. Jackets are kept on club grounds, and taking them off the premises is forbidden. The exception is for the winner, who can take it home and return it to the club the following year. Player, who became the tournament's first international winner in 1961, said he did not know that and he packed the jacket and took it to his home in South Africa.
Player is one of the most successful golfers in history, tied for fourth in major championship victories with nine. Along with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus he is often referred to as one of "The Big Three" golfers of his era – from the late 1950s through the late 1970s – when golf boomed in the United States and around the world and was greatly encouraged by expanded television coverage. Along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods, he is one of only five players to win golf's "career Grand Slam". He completed the Grand Slam in 1965 at the age of twenty-nine. Player was the second multiple majors winner from South Africa, following Bobby Locke, then was followed by Ernie Els, and Retief Goosen.
In 1966, he espoused support for the apartheid policies of Hendrik Verwoerd in his book Grand Slam Golf, stating: "I must say now, and clearly, that I am of the South Africa of Verwoerd and apartheid ... a nation which ... is the product of its instinct and ability to maintain civilised values and standards amongst the alien barbarians. The African may well believe in witchcraft and primitive magic, practise ritual murder and polygamy; his wealth is in cattle". Activists publicly demonstrated against Player's espousal of apartheid, including protesting against Player at the 1969 PGA Championship. Australian activists also strongly protested against Player. In 1971 there were several threats to protest against Player at tournaments though they never came to fruition. Years later, in October 1974, Australian activists screamed at Player "Go home racist," as he was lining up a putt on the 72nd hole in a tournament he had a chance to win.
CUT = missed the halfway cut (3rd round cut in 1970, 1980, 1981 and 1985 Open Championships) WD = withdrew "T" indicates a tie for a place.
Player has occasionally been accused of cheating, particularly in the 1974 Open; he has strongly denied the accusations. Later, at a skins game in Arizona in 1983, Tom Watson accused him of cheating by moving a leaf from behind his ball.
The Player Foundation was established in 1983 by Marc Player and began as an effort to provide education, nutrition, medical care and athletic activities, for a small community of disadvantaged children living on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. The Player Foundation has since blossomed into an organisation that circles the globe bringing aid to underprivileged children and impoverished communities. Since its establishment, The Player Foundation has donated over $65 million to the support of children's charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.
However, in a 1987 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Player disavowed the system of apartheid, stating, "We have a terrible system in apartheid...it's almost a cancerous disease. I'm happy to say it's being eliminated....we've got to get rid of this apartheid." In an interview with Graham Bensinger, Player discussed his early support for apartheid stating that the South African Government had "pulled the wool over our eyes" and that the people were "brainwashed" into supporting these policies.
In 2000, Player was voted "Sportsman of the Century" in South Africa. In 1966, he was awarded the Bob Jones Award, the highest honour given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished 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 as of March 2006.
In 2000, Golf Digest magazine ranked Player as the eighth greatest golfer of all time.
In 2002, Player was voted as the second greatest global golfer of all time by a panel of international media, golf magazines and fellow professionals conducted by the leading Golf Asia Magazine.
Being South African, Player never played in the Ryder Cup in which American and European golfers compete against each other. Regarding the event, 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 an eligible player 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 a course he designed, The Links at Fancourt, in George, South Africa. After 2003 ended in a tie, he was reappointed as captain for the 2005 Presidents Cup, and his team lost to the Americans 15.5 to 18.5. Both Player and Jack Nicklaus were appointed to captain their respective teams again in 2007 in Canada; the United States won.
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 when this feat was equalled by Seve Ballesteros, finally losing his share of the record in 2004, when Ernie Els won the event for the sixth time. Player was in the top ten of Mark McCormack's world golf rankings from their inception in 1968 until 1981; he was ranked second in 1969, 1970 and 1972, each time to Jack Nicklaus.
Player has hosted the Nelson Mandela Invitational golf tournament since 2000. In October 2007, media attention arose about his involvement in the 2002 design of a golf course in Burma. As a result of the political uprisings in Burma, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund withdrew from the fundraising golf tournament because of Player's unsubstantiated business links with the country. Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu accepted Player's position and statements on Burma. Player refused to withdraw as he and his son Marc personally built the golf event from scratch and issued a statement rebutting these claims via his website. The event is now successfully annually staged at the Sun City Resort as the Gary Player Invitational.
In July 2007, Player made statements at The Open Championship golf tournament about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in golf. He alleged that at least ten players were "taking something", citing human growth hormone, steroids and creatine as possible substances. Both the PGA Tour and European Tour were in the process of introducing random testing programmes at the time.
On 10 April 2009, he played for the last time in the Masters, where he was playing for his record 52nd time – every year since 1957 except for 1973, when he was recovering from surgery. After Nicklaus and Palmer, he was the last of the Big Three to retire from this tournament, which is a testament to his longevity.
At age 73 on 23 July 2009, Player competed in the Senior British Open Championship at Sunningdale Golf Club, 53 years after capturing his maiden European Tour victory at the Berkshire venue.
Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters announced on 5 July 2011 that Player had been invited to join Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as an honorary starter. The Big Three were reunited in this capacity starting with the 2012 tournament.
In July 2013, he became the oldest athlete ever to pose nude in ESPN The Magazine's annual Body Issue to inspire people to keep looking after themselves throughout their lives whatever their age.
In June 2016, in an interview with bunkered.co.uk, Player branded as 'laughable' a report released by The R&A and USGA which said that driving distance in golf was only increasing minimally. He warned of a 'tsunami coming' due to the governing bodies' failure to address issues surrounding new golf technology. After the 2017 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Player reiterated these comments, taking to Twitter to say he was 'sad' to see the Old Course at St Andrews 'brought to her knees' after Ross Fisher broke the course record on a day of very low scoring during the final round.
The Senior British Open was retroactively recognised by the PGA Tour Champions as a senior major in 2018.
Currently, Gary Player is 85 years, 10 months and 21 days old. Gary Player will celebrate 86th birthday on a Monday 1st of November 2021.
Find out about Gary Player birthday activities in timeline view here.