IAN PLAYER DIES AT 87
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.”