Gary Player rocks the guests at his 80th birth­day party at Sun City.

Gary turns on the charm and com­pet­i­tive­ness at the Lost City

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - News - – Stu­art McLean

Gary Player cel­e­brated his re­cent 80th birth­day with a party for 300 guests at the Sun City Su­per­Bowl.

The event was the cul­mi­na­tion of many cel­e­bra­tions held this past year in his hon­our, and Gary lit­er­ally bounced into the arena to a thun­der­ous burst of razzmatazz as the guests awaited his ar­rival, and re­mained full of en­ergy the en­tire night, singing the Johnny Cash clas­sic “Ring of Fire” on the stage with Irish vo­cal­ists Ro­nan Keating and Brian McFad­den, and later in the evening sweep­ing up in his arms the fe­male vi­o­lin­ist mem­ber of the band Fresh­ly­ground. Not many 50-year-olds would have been as ebul­lient or en­gag­ing as Gary was for hours on end. He’s just so full of “go.” He went to bed af­ter mid­night, and bright and early the next morn­ing I bumped into him, chirpy and smil­ing, in the lobby of the Palace of the Lost City, head­ing off to the golf course to tee up with clients. He looked the very op­po­site of how a par­ty­goer is meant to look the next day.

It was a mem­o­rable oc­ca­sion for Gary and wife Vivi­enne mostly for the fact that the en­tire Player fam­ily, 37 of them from around the world, bar­ring three grand­chil­dren who had school ex­ams, were there to cel­e­brate with him. His two sons, Marc and Wayne, daugh­ters Amanda, Jen­nifer, Michele and Theresa, plus 19 grand­chil­dren were there along­side old fam­ily friends, in­clud­ing Jo­hann and Gaynor Ru­pert, who sat next to Gary and Vivi­enne, and prom­i­nent mem­bers of the lo­cal golf in­dus­try. The party was held byThe Friends of Gary Player,and they made sure his favourite songs were played through­out the evening. Idols judge and Metro FM ra­dio pre­sen­ter Unathi Msen­gana was the MC.

The cel­e­bra­tions were fol­lowed by the 16th an­nual Gary Player In­vi­ta­tional tour­na­ment at Lost City, and show­ing typ­i­cal com­pet­i­tive­ness and a won­der­ful sense of oc­ca­sion, Gary re­tained his ti­tle in this Al­liance for­mat 36-hole event. His first vic­tory as an oc­to­ge­nar­ian, which means he main­tains his amaz­ing achieve­ment of hav­ing won a pro­fes­sional ti­tle in ev­ery decade of his life since his teenage years. His team of Keating and busi­ness­men Dr Hans-Wal­ter Peters and Sello Moloko shot 36-un­der-par to win by 11 strokes.Africa’s premier char­ity golf tour­na­ment raised a record R6.2-mil­lion for char­i­ties sup­port­ing un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren in South Africa.

Af­ter­wards, Gary said it was the best week of his life. Well, he would, wouldn’t he?

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