IAN PLAYER DIES AT 87

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Inside The Ropes -

Shortly after his mother’s death, 8-year-old Gary Player at­tempted to run a mile with his brother Ian, then 16, but fell to the ground gasp­ing, “I just can’t make it.” Ian yanked the small boy to his feet and told him, “There’s no room for ‘can’t’ in this life,” punc­tu­at­ing the mes­sage with a swift kick in the pants.

“Ever since,” Gary said in 1997, “if I’ve been tempted to say ‘can’t,’ I feel that kick again.” It was Ian who urged Gary to com­mit to a life­long reg­i­men of phys­i­cal fit­ness that in his prime would al­low the win­ner of nine ma­jors to feel “like a gi­ant. When I stood on the tee with Arnold and Jack . . . I never be­lieved they were big­ger than me.”

In De­cem­ber, after decades as one of the world’s lead­ing wildlife con­ser­va­tion­ists, Ian Player ( pic­tured) died at his home at 87. Though he will be re­mem­bered for sav­ing the white rhino from ex­tinc­tion, Ian also made golf his­tory as the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the protean force that has been his lit­tle brother. “I will take a walk in na­ture to­day,” Gary said, “re­mem­ber­ing that one man can make a huge im­pact.”

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