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  • Writer's pictureBen Maroco

Golfer Gary Player: Biography and Career & Majors

Image of Gary Player Masters 2022

Gary Player Biography

As the first golfer to travel the world and compete on multiple tours while still a professional, Gary Player is considered to be the father of modern international golf. He won numerous competitions along the way, including majors.

Player was a member of golf's "Big Three" starting in the 1960s (alongside Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer).

The pro golfer was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 1st, 1935. The origin of his moniker, "The Black Knight," was his propensity for dressing in all-black while on the golf course.

Profile Summary

  • Name: Gary Player

  • Nick Name: The Black Knight

  • Birth Place: Johannesburg, South Africa

  • Residence: Johannesburg, South Africa

  • Founder: Gary Player Design

  • Height: 5'6"

  • Children: Marc Player Amanda, Theresa, Jennifer, Michele, and Wayne Player

  • Mother: Muriel Player

  • Father: Harry Player

  • Siblings: Ian Player

  • Spouse/Ex-: Vivienne Verwey

  • Sun Sign: Scorpio

  • Profession: South African Golfer

  • Famous: Philanthropists

Gary Player Tour and Major Championship Wins

Image of Gary Player Masters 2022
Image of Jack Niklaus, Tiger Woods and Gary Player During The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course

Player won 19 times on the Champions Tour after turning 50 and another 24 times on the U.S. PGA Tour. He has amassed 163 victories in total.

Player won 63 times on the Sunshine Tour of South Africa, 18 times on the PGA of Australasia, as well as in Europe, adding wins in Brazil, Chile, Japan, Egypt, and three times on the European Seniors Tour.

Player equaled Ben Hogan for the fourth-most victories in men's golf history with nine victories in the four major events. His most significant accomplishments are listed below:

  • The Masters in 1961, 1974, and 1978.

  • U.S. Open in 1965.

  • The British Open in 1959, 1968, and 1974.

  • The PGA Championship in 1962 and 1972.

  • World Golf Hall of Fame

  • SA Sportsman of the Century award recipient

  • 1961 PGA Tour money leader

  • Captain SA in Presidents Cup - 2003, 2005, 2007

Gary Player Golf Career

Image of Gary Player Masters 2022
Image of Gary Player During Senior Open

The first golfer to achieve stardom on the "international" stage was Gary Player. When we use the term "international," we also indicate a traveler who is not American or European.

Player has traveled more than 15 million miles throughout the world to play golf events, living up to one of his many monikers as "The International Ambassador of Golf."

South African Player was the first international talent to establish a sustained presence on the PGA Tour while simultaneously competing internationally, although his countryman Bobby Locke had joined the tour before him.

Along the process, Player won 163 tournaments worldwide and in 27 straight tournament seasons.

Player joined the PGA Tour in 1957 after turning professional in 1953. He won his first major event at the 1959 British Open, and in 1961, he became the first non-American to clinch The Masters.

Image of Gary Player Masters 2022
Image of Gary Player After Senior Open Championship Victory - 1997

Following the PGA Championship in 1962, Player won the U.S. Open in 1965, becoming only the third person in history to complete the career grand slam.

Golf's "Big Three," a group of legends that also included Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, included Player during the 1960s. For the remainder of their professional careers, the three played the Masters Par-3 Contest together, which only came to a stop when Palmer passed away. They were cordial rivals both on and off the course.

At the 1978 Masters, Player's final major victory—his ninth overall—came after a final-round 64 helped him overcome a 7-shot deficit to win by one stroke. He won the World Match Play Championship five times, the Australian Open seven times, and the SA Open 13 times. After joining the Champions Tour in 1985, he kept on winning, taking home six senior championships.

Off the field, Player labored covertly to better the racial climate in his home SA, which for the majority of his life was shrouded under apartheid. To encourage education among the impoverished in his nation, he established The Player Foundation, which went on to construct the Blair Atholl Schools.

Player has designed more than 300 golf courses throughout the world and is a breeder of racehorses. Additionally, he operates his wine and clothing labels. These Gary Player golf course designing has been his primary revenue source.

Image of Gary Player Masters 2022
Mission Hills Gary Player Course

One of the courses is the Mission Hills Gary Player Course located in a desert and designed to preserve the environmental integrity of the course. He was a lifetime fitness enthusiast and advocate for wellness programs both inside and outside of golf.

Three times during the Presidents Cup in the 2000s, Player led the international team. Nicklaus was the opposition captain each of the three times.

Nicklaus and Team USA won the Presidents Cup twice, but in 2003, as night came on the final day and a playoff was underway, the captains decided to declare a draw and divide the trophy—a first. He was in 1974 an inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Gary Player Net Worth

Player has nine major championships to his name, nine on the Champions Tour and nine on the normal tour. Gary Player's net worth was approximately $250 million as of November 2022.

Gary Player Wife

Image of Gary Player Masters 2022
Image of Gary Player and His Wife Vivienne Verwey

On January 19, 1957, Player wedded Vivienne Verwey, the sister of Bobby Verwey, a professional golfer.

This union took place four years after Player first turned pro. Jennifer, Marc, Wayne, Michele, Theresa, and Amanda are the six Gary Player children they had together. Gary Player son is also a pro golfer.

Gary Player Age

What is Gary Player age? Gary Player age is 87, having been born on November, 1st 1935. He appeared in the 2022 Masters along Jack Niclaus and Tom Watson despite their advanced age.

Gary Player Son Golf Ball

Image of Gary Player Masters 2022
An Unnamed Lady Showcasing OnCore Golf Ball

After appearing to endorse a golf ball manufacturer at an event with Lee Elder, the first Black player to ever compete in the illustrious tournament, Wayne Player, Gary Player son, was prohibited from playing in the Masters.

The OnCore golf ball is the controversial Gary Player son golf ball sought to promote during the grand opening at The Masters Tournament at Augusta National.

Gary Player Trivia

  • The only golfer to win the British Open three times during the 20th century was Gary Player.

  • Player currently holds the record for most appearances at The Masters. He competed in 52 Masters competitions, the final one in 2009.

  • The golfer published a record album in 1970 that contained 10 songs, several of which were standards and oldies from mainstream or country music.

  • Gary Player Masters 2022: Tom Watson and Jack Niklaus joined Gary to play in the 2022 Masters despite their advanced age.

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