Player will lead SA golf team to Rio Olympics
Gary Player will captain South Africa’s first Olympic golf team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro next year.
The announcement was made at the Soweto Country Club in Pimville yesterday where the former grand slam winner was made an honorary life member.
A golf day was held at the venue to celebrate his achievements as one of the country’s greatest sporting ambassadors.
Player (79) won more than 165 tournaments worldwide in an illustrious 63-year professional career in which he won nine majors.
This will be the first time Mzansi will send a golf team to the Olympics.
Player’s captaincy was made official by the SA Golf Association.
According to Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan, the veteran was chosen to lead the squad because of his track record on the fairways.
“Gary is the country’s great golf ambassador, so it is fitting for him to be chosen the skipper of the country’s Olympic golf team,” he said.
Nathan said international players Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace had been drafted into the squad because of their impressive standings on the latest world rankings. Oosthuizen is placed 13th, while Grace’s name appears in the 28th spot.
The rest of the squad will be announced from December 30 until April next year.
Player said he was honoured to be given the opportunity to lead the country.
“I am delighted to accept the captaincy and look forward to leading our top professionals on the fairways of the Rio Olympics next year.
“This is such a big moment for our country and for the game of golf,” he said.
Player captained the international team for the Presidents Cup in 2003 and 2007. He also made several appearances for South Africa in the World Cup of Golf.
Golf has only appeared twice at the Olympics Games – in 1900 and 1904, with the US, Canada and the UK competing.
BIG HITTER Louis Oosthuizen
YOUNG TALENT Branden Grace