Gary Player Bio
Gary Player has pretty much been known as the first “modern” international golfer. He has traveled around the world from his earliest days as a professional, and has become a fan favorite around the globe. Along the way he won a lot of tournaments, including a lot of majors.
Date of birth: Nov. 1, 1935
Place of birth: Johannesburg, South Africa
Nickname: “The Black Knight,” Gary Player wears all Black like Tiger Woods wears black and red, and Ricky Fowler wears orange.
• PGA Tour: 24
• Champions Tour: 19
(163 tournament wins worldwide)
Major Championships: 9
• Masters: 1961, 1974, 1978
• U.S. Open: 1965
• British Open: 1959, 1968, 1974
• PGA Championship: 1962, 1972
Awards and Honors:
• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• Recipient, South African Sportsman of the Century award
• PGA Tour money leader, 1961
• Captain, International team, 2003, 2005, 2007 Presidents Cup
From the Gary Player Bio:
Gary Player holds the record for most times playing in The Masters. He played 52 Masters tournaments, the last in 2009.
Gary Player was the first “international” golfer to gain stardom. By “international,” we mean non-American and non-European, and we also mean world-traveler.
Player, living up to one of his many monickers as “The International Ambassador of Golf,” is estimated to have flown more than 15 million miles traversing the globe to play golf tournaments..
While countryman Bobby Locke preceded him to the PGA Tour, South African Player was the first international star to build a long-term presence on the PGA Tour, while also playing around the world. Along the way, Player won tournaments in 27 consecutive years, and 163 tournaments total worldwide.
Player turned pro in 1953 and joined the PGA Tour in 1957. His first major championship win came at the 1959 British Open, and he was the first non-American to win the Masters when he did so in 1961. The PGA Championship followed in 1962, and when Player won the 1965 U.S. Open he became, at the time, only the third winner of the careen grand slam of golf.
Throughout the 1960s, Player was part of golf’s “Big Three,” a group of superstars that also including Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. The three were friendly rivals both on and off the course for the remainder of their careers, and into the 2010s were still playing the Masters Par-3 Contest together. We were lucky enough to see that amazing “Big Three” at the 2013 Masters Par-3 Tournament.
The last of Player’s nine wins in majors came at the 1978 Masters, where his final-round 64 propelled him from a 7-shot deficit to a 1-stroke victory.
Player won the South African Open 13 times; the Australian Open seven times; and the World Match Play Championship five times. He continued winning after joining the Champions Tour in 1985, including senior majors.
Off the course, Player worked behind-the-scenes to improve the racial situation in his native South Africa, which for most of his life existed under the shroud of apartheid. He founded The Player Foundation to promote education among his country’s underprivileged, and the foundation built the Blair Atholl Schools in Johannesburg, which has educational facilities for more than 500 students.
Player is a breeder of racehorses and a designer of golf courses, with more than 200 courses around the world. He also has his own wine and apparel labels.
Gary Player was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
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