Generally playing in black, Gary Player was dubbed the ‘Black Knight’ and over the years has proved to be one of golf’s most enduring and determined competitors. Coming from South Africa, he is one of the world’s most widely-travelled golfers, having journeyed many millions of air miles.
Renowned for his emphasis on preparation, fitness training and a positive mental approach, his maxim has been - "the harder I practise, the luckier I get."
He won his first tournament in Britain in 1956 and played for the first time on the US Tour the following year. His first Major Championship victory came in 1959 when he won The Open at Muirfield.
After winning The Masters in 1961 and the US PGA Championship in 1962, Gary then made golfing history in 1965 when his US Open victory at Bellerive enabled him to complete the coveted career Grand Slam of all four Majors, following in the footsteps of Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen and to be joined later by Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
He won nine Majors in total - three Open Championships, three Masters, two US PGA Championships and one US Open. He is the only modern player to win the Open Championship in three different decades.
He joined the Champions Tour in 1985 and has since won over 30 times worldwide, including nine Senior Majors - three PGA Seniors Championships, two US Senior Opens, three Senior British Opens and the Senior Players Championship title.
Globetrotting Gary has also won the South African Open and the South African Masters 13 times each, the Australian Open a record seven times, two Australian Masters titles, the World Series of Golf in 1965, 1968 and 1972 and two Brazilian Opens (in one of which he shot 59). He became the first man to secure a then record five World Matchplay titles at Wentworth.
He is a renowned golf course architect with over 200 projects around the world. He designed the course at the Tournament Players Club at Jasna Polana near Princeton, New Jersey and The Links at Fancourt in South Africa, the site of the 2003 Presidents Cup, among many others. The Gary Player Stud Farm has received worldwide acclaim for breeding top thoroughbred racehorses.
He also established the Player Foundation, an organisation dedicated to promoting education around the world. The Foundation built the Blair Atholl Schools in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has educational facilities for over 500 students from kindergarten upwards. Awarded the mantle of South Africa's Sportsman of the Century in 2000, He was named an Honorary Member of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in 1994.
In 2003 he received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award from his fellow Laureus World Sports Academy Members.