Player shows ‘em how
Legend feels young at heart again and in the right frame of mind as he heads for Hawaii
SOUTH African golfing legend Gary Player broke his age by an astonishing 11 shots yesterday to lead his team to victory in his own Gary Player Invitational over the Lost City course that he himself designed.
The 79-year-old shot a four-underpar 68 – a round that begun in pouring rain – and admitted afterwards that it had been a remarkable day’s golf.
“I putted like Houdini and felt like a young 30-year-old out there,” said the man who has won close to 200 tournaments around the world in his long career, including nine Majors and nine Senior Majors, and still works out in the gym every day. “This game is always a challenge and to go so low in a medal round was just fantastic.
“I’ve just been invited to a big tournament in Hawaii, so I’m going to up the practice and get myself ready, and this 68 has got me in a good frame of mind.”
Player had former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena in his team, as well businessmen David Blue and Michael Zamkow and they came from four shots off the pace overnight to seal victory on 29under-par, with the man who will be 80 next year climbing on Mokoena’s broad shoulders for the prize-giving.
This was Player’s first win in the 15-year history of the tournament.
The teams of Player’s fellow Major winners Ian Woosnam and Padraig Harrington were joint second on 23-under-par, the little Welsh wizard alongside former Proteas cricket star Herschelle Gibbs, Jaco Buitendag and Robbie Wray, and the Irishman in the company of young British proette Amy Boulden, and German entrepreneur Wilfried Sauerland and his wife Jochi.
“For a man of 79 to shoot 68 is massive ... just brilliant,” said Woos- nam of Player’s effort.
Jacques Kallis described the round as “just crazy” while Mark Boucher said it was “ridiculously good”.
This year’s charity-driven Invitational, described as “a union between golf and giving” – raised a record R3,5-million through an auction and donations, with the money going to Wings and Wishes, and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka.
Wings and Wishes transport critically ill children to life-saving medical facilities, while the Wildlands Trust’s vision is to restore eco-systems of marginalised communities and Qhubeka use the GPI funds to buy bicycles to provide a cost effective and healthy mobility solutions for these communities.
EYES ON THE BALL: Gary Player tees off during the second round of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Course at Sun City yesterday. Player rolled back the years as he shot a 68 to help his team win the charity event.