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You are here: Golf Club Membership > Golf Information > South African Golfers > Gary Player

South African Golfer - Gary Player

The Golf Club featuring South African Golfer Gary Player
Gary Player

Gary Jim Player (born November 1, 1935)

Player is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the sport, ranking first in total professional wins, with at least a hundred and sixty-six, and tied fourth in major championship victories with nine. Along with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus he is sometimes referred to as one of "The Big Three" golfers of his era — from the late 1950s through the early 1970s — when golf boomed in the United States and around the world, 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 multi-time majors winner from South Africa, following from Bobby Locke, and succeeded by Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.

Player played regularly on the U.S. based PGA Tour from the late 1950s. He led the money list in 1961, and went on to accumulate twenty four career titles. He also played an exceptionally busy schedule all over the world, and he has been called the world's most travelled athlete, clocking up more than 14 million miles. He has more victories than anyone else in the South African Open (thirteen) and the Australian Open (seven). 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 a sixth time.

He was the only player in the 20th century to win the British Open in three different decades. Last won Masters in 1978, when he started seven strokes behind the leaders 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 came from seven strokes back in the final round to win the Tournament of Champions. In gusty winds at the 1998 Masters, he became the oldest golfer ever to make to the cut, breaking the 25-year-old record set by Sam Snead.

Being South African, Player never played in the Ryder Cup in which American and European golfers compete against each other, and 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. However, 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 have been appointed to captain their respective teams again in 2007 in Canada.

In 1966, Gary Player was awarded the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor 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 and "Gary Player — A Global Journey" exhibition launched by the Hall of Fame as of March, 2006.

Tournament Wins

PGA Tour wins (24)
1958 (1) Kentucky Derby Open
1959 (1) The Open Championship
1961 (3) Lucky International, Sunshine Open, The Masters
1962 (1) PGA Championship
1963 (1) San Diego Open Invitational
1964 (2) “500” Festival, Pensacola Open
1965 (1) U.S. Open
1968 (1) The Open Championship
1969 (1) Tournament of Champions
1970 (1) Greater Greensboro Open
1971 (2) Greater Jacksonville Open, National Airlines Open
1972 (2) Greater New Orleans Open, PGA Championship
1973 (1) Southern Open
1974 (3) The Masters, Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, The Open Championship
1978 (3) The Masters, MONY Tournament of Champions, Shell Houston Open

Other regular wins
In addition to his wins on the PGA Tour, Player won more than 100 other tournaments in "regular", that is non-senior golf.
South Africa Tour (now the Sunshine Tour)
73 wins between 1955 and 1981 including:
South African Open: 13 times between 1956 and 1983
South African Masters: 10 times between 1959 and 1976
South African PGA Championship: 5 times between 1959 and 1976

PGA Tour of Australasia
18 wins between 1956 and 1981 including:
Australian Open: 7 times between 1958 and 1974

At least 20 other wins between 1955 and 1984, including:
World Cup: individual title in 1965 and 1977
World Match Play Championship: 5 times between 1965 and 1974 (played in England, but not an official European Tour event at that time)
World Series of Golf:1965, 1968 and 1972 (U.S. - not a PGA Tour event at that time)
Lancome Trophy: 1975
Player also collected wins in North and West Africa, Canada, Japan and Latin America.

Champions Tour wins (19)
1985 (1) Quadel Seniors Classic
1986 (3) Senior PGA Championship, United Hospital Classic, Denver Post Champions
1987 (3) Mazda Senior Tournament Players Championship, U.S. Senior Open, PaineWebber World Seniors Invitational
1988 (5) Senior PGA Championship, Aetna Challenge, Southwestern Bell Classic, U.S. Senior Open, GTE North Classic
1989 (2) GTE North Classic, RJR Championship
1990 (1) Senior PGA Championship
1991 (1) Royal Caribbean Classic
1993 (1) Bank One Senior Classic
1995 (1) Bank One Senior Classic
1998 (1) Northville Long Island Classic.

Other senior wins (13)
1986 Senior Skins Game (South Africa)
1987 Northville Invitational (United States), German PGA Team Championship
1988 Senior British Open (European Seniors Tour), Nissan Senior Skins (South Africa)
1990 Senior British Open (European Seniors Tour)
1991 Nissan Senior Skins (South Africa)
1993 Irish Senior Masters (European Seniors Tour)
1997 Dai-ichi Seimei Cup (Japan), Senior British Open (European Seniors Tour), Shell Wentworth Senior Masters (European Seniors Tour),
2000 Senior Skins Game (U.S. - unofficial event)
2005 Nelson Mandela Invitational (Sunshine Tour - unofficial event)

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