Player in 2008
|Full name||Gary Player|
|Nickname||The Black Knight,
1 November 1935 |
Johannesburg, South Africa
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
|Weight||150 lb (68 kg; 11 st)|
|Residence||Jupiter Island, Florida, U.S.
Colesberg, South Africa
|Spouse||Vivienne Verwey (m. 1957-present)|
|Children||Jennifer, Marc, Wayne, Michele, Theresa, Amanda|
|Former tour(s)||PGA Tour (joined 1957)
Champions Tour (joined 1985)
|Number of wins by tour|
|PGA Tour||24 (25th all time)|
|Sunshine Tour||63 (1st all time)|
|PGA Tour of Australasia||18|
|PGA Tour Champions||19|
|European Senior Tour||3|
|Best results in major championships
|Masters Tournament||Won: 1961, 1974, 1978|
|U.S. Open||Won: 1965|
|The Open Championship||Won: 1959, 1968, 1974|
|PGA Championship||Won: 1962, 1972|
|Achievements and awards|
|World Golf Hall of Fame||1974 (member page)|
leading money winner
|Southern Africa Tour
Order of Merit winner
|PGA Tour Lifetime
|(For a full list of awards, see here)|
Gary Player DMS, OIG (born 1 November 1935) is a retired South African professional golfer. Over his career, Player accumulated nine major championships on the regular tour and six Champions Tour major championship victories, as well as three Senior British Open Championships on the European Senior Tour. At the age of 29, Player won the 1965 U.S. Open and became the only non-American to win all four majors, known as the career Grand Slam. Player became only the third golfer in history to win the Career Grand Slam, following Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, and only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have performed the feat since. Player has won 165 tournaments on six continents over six decades and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
Nicknamed the Black Knight, Mr. Fitness, and the International Ambassador of Golf, Player is also a renowned golf course architect with more than 325 design projects on five continents throughout the world. He has also authored or co-written 36 golf books.
His business interests are represented by Black Knight International, which includes Gary Player Design, Player Real Estate, The Player Foundation, Gary Player Academies, and Black Knight Enterprises, aspects of which include licensing, events, publishing, wine, apparel and memorabilia.
He operates The Player Foundation, which has a primary objective of promoting underprivileged education around the world. In 1983, The Player Foundation established the Blair Atholl Schools in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has educational facilities for more than 500 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. In 2013 it celebrated its 30th Anniversary with charity golf events in London, Palm Beach, Shanghai and Cape Town, bringing its total of funds raised to over US$60 million.
Player was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, the youngest of Harry and Muriel Player's three children. When he was eight years old his mother died from cancer. Although his father was often away from home working in the gold mines, he did manage to take a loan in order to buy a set of clubs for his son Gary to begin playing golf. The Virginia Park golf course in Johannesburg is where Player first began his love affair with golf. At the age of 14, Player played his first round of golf and parred the first three holes. At age 16, he announced that he would become number one in the world. At age 17, he became a professional golfer.
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 is also a grandfather to 21 grandchildren. During the early days of his career Player would travel from tournament to tournament with wife, six children, nanny and a tutor in tow.
His eldest son, Marc Player, owns and operates Black Knight International, which exclusively represents Player in all his commercial activities, including all endorsements, licensing, merchandising, golf course design, and real estate development.
Player is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the sport, ranking third (behind Roberto de Vicenzo and Sam Snead) in total professional wins, with at least 164, and 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, 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.
Player played 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".
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 a 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.
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 U.S. 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.
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.
In 2000 he was voted "Sportsman of the Century" in South Africa. In 1966, Gary Player 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 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.
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, a testament to his longevity.
On 23 July 2009, at the age of 73, 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.
Gary Player and Gary Player Design have executed over 300 projects in 35 countries on five continents. The company offers three different design brands: Gary Player Design, Player Design, and Black Knight Design.
The Player Foundation was established in 1983 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 $50 million to the support of children's charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.
The Foundation is primarily funded by four Gary Player Invitational events presented through Black Knight International and staged in the United States, China, Europe and South Africa annually. The Gary Player Invitational is a pro-am tournament that pairs celebrities and professional golfers from the PGA and Champions Tours with businessmen and other local participants. The proceeds of these tournaments and other special events provide funding for an ever-expanding number of institutions around the world, including the Blair Atholl Schools in South Africa, the Pleasant City Elementary School in Palm Beach, the Masizame Children's Shelter in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, and AIDS infected children in Baoshan, a drug-infested city located on the China-Burma border.
Proceeds from the Gary Player Invitational have also been donated to The Lord's Taverners in the UK and the following organisations in South Africa; Wildlands Conservation Trust, Twilight Children, and Bana Development Centre.
In 1966, he espoused openly racist views and 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. More money and he will have no sense of parental or individual responsibility, no understanding of reverence for life or the human soul which is the basis of Christian and other civilised societies. A good deal of nonsense is talked of, and indeed thought about 'segregation'. Segregation of one kind or another is practised everywhere in the world."
In July 2007, a media controversy emerged over his statements at The Open Championship golf tournament about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in golf. He was the first golfer to call for mandatory drug testing on all tours around the world. Subsequently, the PGA Tour introduced a formal policy.
He has been a pioneer of diet, health and fitness although he upset the Atkins Diet organisation by disagreeing with their "all protein" approach.
Player has hosted the Nelson Mandela Invitational golf tournament since 2000. In October 2007, further media controversy 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 personally built the golf event from scratch and issued a statement rebutting these claims via his website. The event is now annually staged at the Fancourt Resort as the Gary Player Invitational.
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 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.
Player has occasionally been accused of cheating, particularly in the 1974 Open, an allegation that Player has strongly denied. Later, at a skins game in Arizona in 1983, Tom Watson accused him of cheating by moving a growing leaf from behind his ball.
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||20 Apr 1958||Kentucky Derby Open||-14 (68-68-69-69=274)||3 strokes||Chick Harbert, Ernie Vossler|
|2||3 Jul 1959||The Open Championship||E (75-71-70-68=284)||2 strokes||Fred Bullock, Flory Van Donck|
|3||29 Jan 1961||Lucky International Open||-12 (70-69-68-65=272)||2 strokes||George Bayer, Don Whitt|
|4||26 Mar 1961||Sunshine Open Invitational||-15 (69-68-67-69=273)||1 stroke||Arnold Palmer|
|5||10 Apr 1961||Masters Tournament||-8 (69-68-69-74=280)||1 stroke||Charles Coe, Arnold Palmer|
|6||22 Jul 1962||PGA Championship||-2 (72-67-69-70=278)||1 stroke||Bob Goalby|
|7||13 Jan 1963||San Diego Open Invitational||-14 (65-65-70-70=270)||1 stroke||Tony Lema|
|8||9 Mar 1964||Pensacola Open||-14 (71-68-66-69=274)||Playoff||Miller Barber, Arnold Palmer|
|9||31 May 1964||500 Festival Open Invitation||-11 (70-66-70-67=273)||1 stroke||Doug Sanders, Art Wall, Jr.|
|10||21 Jun 1965||U.S. Open||+2 (70-70-71-71=282)||Playoff||Kel Nagle|
|11||13 Jul 1968||The Open Championship||+1 (74-71-71-73=289)||2 strokes||Bob Charles, Jack Nicklaus|
|12||20 Apr 1969||Tournament of Champions||-4 (69-74-69-72=284)||2 strokes||Lee Trevino|
|13||5 Apr 1970||Greater Greensboro Open||-13 (70-63-73-65=271)||2 strokes||Miller Barber|
|14||21 Mar 1971||Greater Jacksonville Open||-7 (70-70-72-69=281)||Playoff||Hal Underwood|
|15||28 Mar 1971||National Airlines Open Invitational||-14 (69-67-70-68=274)||2 strokes||Lee Trevino|
|16||26 Mar 1972||Greater New Orleans Open||-9 (73-69-68-69=279)||1 stroke||Dave Eichelberger, Jack Nicklaus|
|17||6 Aug 1972||PGA Championship||+1 (71-71-67-72=281)||2 strokes||Tommy Aaron, Jim Jamieson|
|18||9 Sep 1973||Southern Open||-10 (69-65-67-69=270)||1 stroke||Forrest Fezler|
|19||14 Apr 1974||Masters Tournament||-10 (71-71-66-70=278)||2 strokes||Dave Stockton, Tom Weiskopf|
|20||26 May 1974||Danny Thomas Memphis Classic||-15 (65-72-69-67=273)||2 strokes||Lou Graham, Hubert Green|
|21||13 Jul 1974||The Open Championship||-2 (69-68-75-70=282)||4 strokes||Peter Oosterhuis|
|22||9 Apr 1978||Masters Tournament||-11 (72-72-69-64=277)||1 stroke||Rod Funseth, Hubert Green, Tom Watson|
|23||16 Apr 1978||MONY Tournament of Champions||-7 (70-68-76-67=281)||2 strokes||Andy North, Lee Trevino|
|24||23 Apr 1978||Houston Open||-18 (64-67-70-69=270)||1 stroke||Andy Bean|
PGA Tour playoff record (3-10)
|1||1958||Dallas Open Invitational||Julius Boros, John McMullin, Sam Snead||Snead won with birdie on first extra hole|
|2||1959||Memphis Open||Al Balding, Don Whitt||Whitt won with par on second extra hole
Balding eliminated on first hole with birdie
|3||1961||American Golf Classic||Jay Hebert||Lost to birdie on the second extra hole|
|4||1962||Masters Tournament||Dow Finsterwald, Arnold Palmer||Lost 18-hole playoff (Palmer:68, Player:71, Finsterwald:77)|
|5||1962||Memphis Open Invitational||Lionel Hebert, Gene Littler||Hebert won with birdie on first extra hole|
|6||1963||Palm Springs Golf Classic||Jack Nicklaus||Lost 18-hole playoff (Nicklaus:65, Player:73)|
|7||1964||Pensacola Open||Miller Barber, Arnold Palmer||Won 18-hole playoff (Player:71, Palmer:72, Barber:74)|
|8||1965||U.S. Open||Kel Nagle||Won 18-hole playoff (Player:71, Nagle:74)|
|9||1967||Oklahoma City Open Invitational||Miller Barber||Lost to birdie on third extra hole|
|10||1968||Azalea Open Invitational||Steve Reid||Lost to birdie on second extra hole|
|11||1971||Greater Jacksonville Open||Hal Underwood||Won with par on second extra hole|
|12||1971||Kemper Open||Dale Douglass, Lee Trevino, Tom Weiskopf||Weiskopf won with birdie on first extra hole|
|13||1975||MONY Tournament of Champions||Al Geiberger||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
Major championships are shown in bold.
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||23 Nov 1985||Quadel Seniors Classic||-11 (73-64-68=205)||3 strokes||Jim Ferree, Ken Still|
|2||16 Feb 1986||General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship||-12 (68-68-73-72=281)||2 strokes||Lee Elder|
|3||18 May 1986||United Hospitals Senior Golf Championship||-4 (66-70-70=206)||1 stroke||Bob Charles, Lee Elder|
|4||1 Jun 1986||Denver Post Champions of Golf||-8 (70-67-71=208)||Playoff||Roberto DeVicenzo|
|5||14 Jun 1987||Mazda Senior Tournament Players Championship||-8 (69-73-69-69=280)||1 stroke||Bruce Crampton, Chi-Chi Rodríguez|
|6||12 Jul 1987||U.S. Senior Open||-14 (69-68-67-66=270)||6 strokes||Doug Sanders|
|7||13 Sep 1987||PaineWebber World Seniors Invitational||-9 (68-67-72=207)||Playoff||Bob Charles|
|8||14 Feb 1988||General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship||-4 (69-73-72=70=284)||3 strokes||Chi-Chi Rodríguez|
|9||28 Feb 1988||Aetna Challenge||-9 (70-70-67=207)||1 stroke||Dave Hill|
|10||26 Jun 1988||Silver Pages Classic||-13 (69-68-66=203)||Playoff||Harold Henning|
|11||8 Aug 1988||U.S. Senior Open||E (74-71-70-73=288)||Playoff||Bob Charles|
|12||11 Sep 1988||GTE North Classic||-15 (70-65-66=201)||2 strokes||Dave Hill|
|13||10 Sep 1989||GTE North Classic||-9 (67-68=135)||1 stroke||Billy Casper, Al Geiberger, Joe Jimenez|
|14||8 Oct 1989||RJR Championship||-3 (65-71-71=207)||1 stroke||Rives McBee|
|15||15 Apr 1990||PGA Seniors' Championship||-7 (74-69-65-73=281)||2 strokes||Chi-Chi Rodríguez|
|16||3 Feb 1991||Royal Caribbean Classic||-13 (67-65-68=200)||2 strokes||Bob Charles, Chi-Chi Rodríguez, Lee Trevino|
|17||19 Sep 1993||Bank One Senior Classic||-14 (68-68-66=202)||3 strokes||Dale Douglass|
|18||24 Sep 1995||Bank One Classic||-5 (72-75-64=211)||2 strokes||Jack Kiefer|
|19||23 Aug 1998||Northville Long Island Classic||-12 (68-68-68=204)||1 stroke||Walter Hall, J. C. Snead|
Champions Tour playoff record (4-2)
|1||1986||Denver Post Champions of Golf||Roberto DeVicenzo||Won with par on fourth extra hole|
|2||1987||PaineWebber World Seniors Invitational||Bob Charles||Won with birdie on first extra hole|
|3||1988||Silver Pages Classic||Harold Henning||Won with birdie on first extra hole|
|4||1988||U.S. Senior Open||Bob Charles||Won 18-hole playoff (Player:68, Charles:70)|
|5||1990||Bell Atlantic Classic||Dale Douglass||Lost to par on second extra hole|
|6||1996||FHP Health Care Classic||Walter Morgan||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
Senior majors are shown in bold. See "Other senior wins" below for Player's wins in the Senior British Open.
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||15 Aug 1993||Belfast Telegraph Irish Senior Masters||68-68-72=208||2 strokes||José María Roca|
|2||27 Jul 1997||Senior British Open*||-10 (68-70-72-68=278)||Playoff||John Bland|
|3||3 Aug 1997||Shell Wentworth Senior Masters||-9 (69-68-70-=207)||1 stroke||José María Cañizares, David Creamer|
European Tour playoff record (0-2)
|1||1974||Dunlop Masters||Bernard Gallacher||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
|2||1976||Penfold PGA Championship||Neil Coles, Eamonn Darcy||Coles won with par on third extra hole
Player eliminated by par on first hole
|Year||Championship||54 holes||Winning score||Margin||Runner(s)-up|
|1959||The Open Championship||4 shot deficit||E (75-71-70-68=284)||2 strokes||Fred Bullock, Flory Van Donck|
|1961||Masters Tournament||3 shot lead||-8 (69-68-69-74=280)||1 stroke||Charles Coe, Arnold Palmer|
|1962||PGA Championship||2 shot lead||-2 (72-67-69-70=278)||1 stroke||Bob Goalby|
|1965||U.S. Open||2 shot lead||+2 (70-70-71-71=282)||Playoff 1||Kel Nagle|
|1968||The Open Championship (2)||2 shot deficit||+1 (74-71-71-73=289)||2 strokes||Bob Charles, Jack Nicklaus|
|1972||PGA Championship (2)||1 shot lead||+1 (71-71-67-72=281)||2 strokes||Tommy Aaron, Jim Jamieson|
|1974||Masters Tournament (2)||1 shot deficit||-10 (71-71-66-70=278)||2 strokes||Dave Stockton, Tom Weiskopf|
|1974||The Open Championship (3)||3 shot lead||-2 (69-68-75-70=282)||4 strokes||Peter Oosterhuis|
|1978||Masters Tournament (3)||7 shot deficit||-11 (72-72-69-64=277)||1 stroke|| Rod Funseth, Hubert Green,
1 Defeated Kel Nagle in 18-hole playoff - Player 71 (+1), Nagle 74 (+4).
|The Open Championship||4||T24||7||1|
|The Open Championship||7||WD||CUT||T7||T8||WD||T4||T3||1||T23|
|The Open Championship||CUT||T7||6||T14||1||T32||T28||T22||T34||T19|
|The Open Championship||CUT||CUT||T42||CUT||CUT||CUT||T35||T66||T60||CUT|
|The Open Championship||CUT||T57||CUT||CUT||CUT||T68||CUT||CUT||CUT||CUT|
|The Open Championship||CUT||CUT|
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.
|The Open Championship||3||0||1||6||12||17||46||26|
|1986||General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship||-7 (68-68-73-72=281)||2 strokes||Lee Elder|
|1987||U.S. Senior Open||-14 (69-68-67-66=270)||6 strokes||Doug Sanders|
|1987||Mazda Senior Tournament Players Championship||-8 (69-73-69-69=280)||1 stroke||Bruce Crampton Chi-Chi Rodríguez|
|1988||General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship (2)||-4 (69-73-72-70=284)||3 strokes||Chi-Chi Rodríguez|
|1988||U.S. Senior Open (2)||E (74-70-71-73=288)||Playoff1||Bob Charles|
|1990||PGA Seniors' Championship (3)||-7 (74-69-65-73=281)||2 strokes||Chi-Chi Rodríguez|
1 Won in an 18-hole playoff, Player (68) to Charles (70).
|Senior PGA Championship||1||T8||1||T8|
|U.S. Senior Open||2||1||1||T9|
|Senior Players Championship||T14||1||T3||3|
|Senior PGA Championship||1||T8||5||T16||T19||T60||T31||T20||T39||T43|
|U.S. Senior Open||T3||T8||T3||T17||T13||T19||T60||T21||DNP||DNP|
|Senior Players Championship||T18||T43||T18||T33||T42||DNP||T49||T49||DNP||T29|
|Senior PGA Championship||T46||T8||T45||CUT||CUT||CUT||CUT||CUT||DNP||DNP|
|The Senior Open Championship||-1||-1||-1||T51||CUT||T61||T65||DNP||CUT||CUT|
|U.S. Senior Open||CUT||57||CUT||T54||CUT||DNP||CUT||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|Senior Players Championship||T57||T56||DNP||DNP||T58||DNP||T74||DNP||DNP||DNP|
1The Senior Open Championship was not a Champions Tour major until 2003, though it was on the European Seniors Tour. Player won the event three times prior to this recognition.
DNP = Did not play
CUT = Missed the half-way cut
NYF = Tournament not yet founded
"T" = tied
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.