Player shows ‘em how

Legend feels young at heart again and in the right frame of mind as he heads for Hawaii

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - GRANT WIN­TER

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.

PIC­TURE: GALLO IMAGES

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.

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