Category: Gary Player

July 31, 2013

Rory McIlroy responds to Gary Player’s comments

Posted at 3:04 PM by Scooby Axson

Last week, when Gary Player gave Rory McIlroy some marital advice that he didn't ask for, it quickly became the talk of the golfing world. 

"But the thing is for a man like Rory with talent galore he’s got to make sure he has a woman like I’ve got, who has been married [to me] for 56 years, that has only encouraged me to do well and made sacrifices. He’s got to be intelligent and find the right wife," Player said about Mcllroy to My Sporting Life.

It seems that Mcllroy was the only one who didn't get the memo. 

“I haven't heard. I don't know what you're talking about,” McIlroy said to the Golf Channel Wednesday when asked if he had any reaction to what Player said. “What did he say?”

Mcllroy, who is dating tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, responded to Player by taking the high road. 

"I have the utmost respect for Gary Player,” he said. “He is an incredible man. Obviously the success he's had on the golf course, but just the way he's lived his life and how healthy he is. Obviously he's an inspiration for everyone. I don't know what he said. This is the first time I've heard it. I don't really know, all I know is I've got a lot of respect for the man, and he's someone that I definitely look up to.”

(Photo by Hugh Philpott/UPI)
July 29, 2013

Gary Player 'perturbed' by Rory McIlroy's decision-making

Posted at 11:50 AM by Coleman McDowell

The last two times we've seen Rory McIlroy on a major stage he's been bending a wedge in anger at Merion and lamenting himself as "brain-dead" en route to missing the cut at Muirfield.

Just a quick reminder: In 2012, Rory was the world's No. 1 player, PGA Tour Player of the Year, the leading money winner on Tour and won the PGA Championship at Congressional by a record eight strokes.

Since switching to Nike at the beginning of this season, McIlroy has had stretches of "Old Rory" -- Let's remind ourselves, he's only 24 -– followed by rounds in the 70s.

His season so far (major results bolded): T33, WD, T8, T45, 2, T25, T10, T8, T57, T41, MC.

What happened? Can it be pin-pointed to the new swoosh adorning his apparel? Or his young love romance with Caroline Wozniacki? Is Tiger just bullying him too much?

Well, nine-time major champ Gary Player thinks its related to the 24-year-old's decision-making so far in 2013, in an interview with My Sporting Life.

"I love Rory McIlroy. He’s got talent like you can’t believe but I was quite perturbed when I saw him win the US Open and then the next tournament that he played was one month later. You can’t do that. What he should have done was take a week off after winning the US Open to settle down and then play two tournaments and then the Open. You’ve got to prepare properly."

"When you’re in love as a young man, naturally golf seems to take second place for a while. It’s natural. Love is still the greatest thing that ever happens in our lives. But the thing is for a man like Rory with talent galore he’s got to make sure he has a woman like I’ve got, who has been married [to me] for 56 years, that has only encouraged me to do well and made sacrifices. He’s got to be intelligent and find the right wife. If he finds the right wife, if he practices and if he’s dedicated, he could be the man.”

For clarification, Player sent this following this tweet Monday morning:

Related: Young love is a "distraction" for Rory, says Johnny Miller

Photos: Rory at Caroline's tennis exhibtion

(Photo: Getty)

July 09, 2013

Photos: Gary Player and Carly Booth pose nude in ESPN 'Body Issue'

Posted at 10:36 AM by Coleman McDowell




(Photos: Peter Hapak For ESPN The Magazine)




(Photos: Williams + Hirakawa for ESPN The Magazine)

Gary Player and Carly Booth are the two golfers to bare all in this year's ESPN's 'Body Issue.' Booth is a Scottish golfer with a storied amatuer career and two wins on the Ladies European Tour. Meanwhile, the 77-year-old Player has more PGA Tour wins (24) than Booth has years lived (21).

Player detailed his diet and exercise regimen in an extensive interview with ESPN the Magazine, but only one quote needs to be read.

Q: What is the most important muscle in your body?
Player: No question: your core. That holds your body together. Most people my age haven't seen their private parts in 10 years because they have such a big stomach. And they never will again."

Words to live by.

PHOTOS: Live Naked Golfers

June 25, 2013

Gary Player to pose nude in ESPN 'Body Issue' at age 77

Posted at 12:31 PM by Coleman McDowell

1ae5425978fb455abd16b8fa05e4d331-0Mark your calendars. On July 12, you will be able to see the above body unclothed.

At 77 years young, Gary Player will appear in all his glory in ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue," where athletes pose naked for the magazine.

Player will join San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Olympic volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, NBA players John Wall and Kenneth Faried, and baseball players Matt Harvey and Giancarlo Stanton in the fifth-annual "Body Issue." Player will be the oldest athlete to appear in the special issue. Golfers Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebian, Belen Mozo, Suzann Petterssen and Camilo Villegas have all posed naked for ESPN The Magazine in the past.

Player's exercise regimen in his retirement is well-documented -- he does 1,000 sit-ups per day -- and the nine-time major champ often shares inspirational advice on Twitter.


RELATED PHOTOS: Live Naked Golfers

(Photo: AP)

April 23, 2013

Trevino thinks he's seen the last of Nicklaus in competition

Posted at 5:48 PM by Coleman McDowell

Jack Nicklaus teamed with Gary Player in the first round of the Demaret Division of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in Savannah, Ga., on Monday. Lee Trevino played alongside the team and thinks it might be the last time he gets to play with Nicklaus competitively, according to

“We don’t know if we will ever get a chance to play with Jack again like this. We’ll probably see each other someplace, but as far as a competitive round it probably will never happen again.”

Nicklaus hadn't played in the tournament, a two-man team event for players 70 years and older, since 2001. Player and Nicklaus finished with a three-under round of 69

Even if the golf wasn't at the same level as when each player was in his prime, the verbal jabs thrown around throughout the round showed no signs of aging.

When Nicklaus whistled his opening drive into the left rough, Trevino began with the needle.

“You’re lucky you made it with that swing,” Trevino cackled.

Nicklaus shook his head and lamented, “I used to have another half to it.”

Later Nicklaus joked of another of his tee shots, “How about that, 226 yards down the middle.”

To which Andy Bean, who came out to watch the stars, deadpanned, “Jack, I don’t think it even rolled that far.”

The laughs continued at the third hole when Nicklaus drove over to Trevino and asked about golf cart etiquette.

“Just don’t drive on the green,” Trevino said.

Then he turned to Player and added, “Damn rookie. He doesn’t know.”

After the round, Nicklaus was asked if getting out on the course with his old friends awoke the competitive spirit in him to play in the future tournaments. The Golden Bear was blunt in his response.

“Quite the contrary. It did not inspire me to play anymore. I had no desire to go out there just to enjoy the day. It’s a tournament. That’s why I don’t play anymore, because I can’t do what I want to do.”

April 13, 2013

Gary Player's Diary: It's time we all move on from Tiger's illegal drop

Posted at 10:03 PM by

P1-Player-DiaryI've been asked many times about Tiger Woods since he was assessed the penalty Saturday morning, and there's only one thing I have to say: It doesn't matter what I think. And it doesn't matter what you think, or what the players think, or what the media thinks. The only opinion that matters has already been voiced. It added two strokes to his score and sent him out to play the weekend.

In golf, we have a rules committee, and situations like this are exactly why. When a referee makes a ruling, you have to accept it. It doesn't matter what the commenters on the side say, so why make comments? It makes no difference who thinks Woods should have been disqualified, or who thinks he should have withdrawn. We have to abide the decision. That's how we play golf. Augusta made the final verdict: Tiger broke a rule, and he took his penalty exactly how it was given. No talking can change it, and amen to that.

In sport today, no one wants to accept authority. They want to fight it and question it endlessly. Myself, I don't question it, because I have no need to. That's why we have the USGA and R&A, to decide and rule on these things. When I played sports as a young man in school, if the umpire said you were out, you walked away. Today, everyone feels compelled to argue the point.

It seems like the players are the only ones willing to accept it. Tiger took the penalty he was given. Then he went and played golf. Like Tianlang Guan did yesterday. You have to tip your cap to the way the 8th grader handled the penalty he was assessed. I've never cheered for a man to make a cut like I did that boy! He submitted himself to the rules, and he knew that the referee was not wrong for penalizing him, though there must have been a better way to handle the situation. You have to be consistent! Don't compare two separate rules incidents that happened Friday simply because of when they happened. Guan's penalty was the first of its kind on Tour in 18 years, even though we could all name hundreds of players who have gone over the time allotted to hit their shots. Oh well -- all's well that ends well, and thank goodness for it. If he missed the cut, it would have caused the tournament immeasurable harm. Happily, he's playing the weekend. The game needs an injection of excitement, and we all need these kinds of minor miracles from time to time.

One aspect of Tiger's penalty strikes me as unfair: the role of television. The violation was phoned in by a viewer at home, and that's a problem. I don't think people should be able to phone in rules advice any more than a fan should be able to issue a red card from the stands of a soccer match. Can you call into a basketball game to say someone was out of bounds? That sounds ridiculous. You defer to the local authorities; that's how sport has always worked.

With golf, it's even more unfair, since so few players are shown on the telecast. If, say, 10 percent of the field is being scrutinized by the public, then that's not a level playing field. Players are very honest in competition, and officials are very honest in enforcing the rules -- they do a wonderful job. Someone phoning in "help" from home only makes the game less equitable.

It's a shame we have to talk about such things when so many guys are playing tremendous golf. I look at the leaderboard and instantly see 10 names who can win, although I'd add that anyone within seven strokes has a chance at the green jacket. In 1978, I won it coming from seven behind on Sunday. I had to shoot a 64-with a 30 on the back nine-to do it. I don't think you can do much better than that on this course. Whoever gets the hottest putter going will take it. But the guys at the top better watch their backs and listen for those Sunday roars. Because I think Tiger -- despite all the distractions relating to the rules -- is going to give it one hell of a run.

GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: How Would China React To Guan's Penalty?


GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: What Really Happens at Champions Dinner

GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: The World's Greatest Driving Range

GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: Coming to Augusta Is Like Coming Home

Photo: John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated



April 12, 2013

Gary Player's Diary: What Must China Think of Penalty?

Posted at 9:21 PM by


I’ve seen a lot of great shots and great rounds at Augusta. In 1978, I closed in 30 and shot 64 to win the Masters by one. But that doesn’t compare to what Tianlang Guan is doing at the age of 14. Mark my words: We are witnessing the most historic moment golf has experienced in my lifetime. And giving him the slow-play penalty on Friday is one of the saddest things I’ve seen in golf. When I heard, I prayed that he would make the cut. I am thrilled he did, because having him play the weekend will do miracles for the game. Golf’s popularity is as low as it’s ever been. Fewer and fewer people are playing the game. This will encourage young boys and girls around the world to play the game. Imagine it! Everyone will benefit -- courses, manufacturers, some day even fans.

Now, you cannot criticize the rule. It’s in the book for a reason. I believe the officials when they say Guan broke it. But you’ve got to be consistent. If you had a stopwatch, you could time many players in the last 20 years who have been well over their time but have not been penalized. Slow-playing tournament leaders have not been penalized. If the rule is applied arbitrarily, it is meaningless. The tragedy is that this could cause a stir. Imagine what the Chinese are going to think?

Enough about the penalty, though. I don’t want to diminish the great golf that’s being played. The leaderboard is spectacular. It’s wonderful to see the seasoned pros playing so well. Like Freddie Couples, who I think has the best swing in the field. Bernhard Langer is making a good showing. These Champions Tour players are so much better than the press and the fans understand. The quality of play is only a fraction below the PGA Tour. Maybe more people will realize that now.

Plenty of other veterans are also playing remarkably well. Jim Furyk is up there. He recovered nicely, even though he made a mess of 15. And Angel Cabrera had an electric finish to his round. Five birdies on the back nine! Some guys have Augusta in their blood.

Experience was so important today, because Augusta in the morning was a very different course than Augusta in the afternoon. It was a much tougher course in the morning. Think of it: When Novak Djokavic is playing Roger Federer, it could be windy in the morning or calm in the afternoon -- it doesn’t matter. They are playing against each other in the same conditions. Today, the guys who teed off early got a bit of rain, a bit of wind. They were playing their entire round off of wet grass. It’s hard to spin it off of wet grass, so your ball jumps when you’re hitting into greens. Now, look at the afternoon. The sun comes out. The course dries up and gets shorter. You can spin the ball and fire at the flag, and the green will hold the shot. When the pins are tucked in the corners, it makes all the difference in the world. The course is easier, but both scores count the same. That’s what makes tournament golf so damn tough.

And if you look at the second-round pin placements, you can tell that the members wanted the course to play tough. They were obviously upset that 32 guys shot under par on Thursday. Chairmen of the club have told me that they want the winning score around 280. In my experience, they are able to program that pretty well -- better than any other place we play. It’s like they can turn the course on and off using the pins and the turf. I expect the players will find some tough conditions over the weekend.

I also expect the leaders are going to have to keep their eyes on Tiger Woods. I fancied Tiger to win it at the beginning of the week, and I still do. He looks as focused as I’ve ever seen him. We all know what that Tiger is capable of.

By Friday night, it’s too late to change. You’ve got to stick to your plan. Some guys like to go out and have a couple of drinks. I liked to be on my own. A bit of music, an early dinner and a hot bath followed by a cold one. I liked to get my mind off of my game for a while and then just go play the next day. That feeling that the great ones have -- knowing when to attack -- you can’t find that on Friday night. It’s an instinct, a gift. You either have it or you don’t. We’ll know soon enough who does.


GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: What Really Happens at Champions Dinner

GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: The World's Greatest Driving Range

GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: Coming to Augusta Is Like Coming Home

Photo: John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated


April 11, 2013

Gary Player's Diary: 'How I Out-Drove Jack and Arnie'

Posted at 8:37 PM by


I woke up just past five this morning to be the first person on the practice tee. The sky was still half dark, and I had hours to go before my 7:45 tee-time along side Jack and Arnold. As honorary starters, we would only hit one shot, but I wanted to be perfectly loose. It was so serene, out there before the crowds. That special Augusta peace. Turf so lush you’d swear it’s artificial. Warm water in the range buckets. The sun cutting through the pines. You have to wonder how a place like this is possible, seeing it all like that.

I wanted to outdrive them. That’s why I was out so early. You could bet Jack and Arnold wanted to out-drive me, too. It’s great fun, teeing off next to two people I grew up with. But there’s always a competitive spirit when the three of us get together. We’re terrific friends, and we needle each other all the time. You can’t turn that off. And I’ve got to tell you, I couldn’t believe how many people came out to see us tee off. As I came over from the range, there were droves of people, thousands, all lined up and cheering. Like when we were going head-to-head years ago. Arnold’s 83, so he can’t expect to get the distance that Jack and I do. He doesn’t have the strength. But he opened with a beautiful shot, right down the middle. I hit mine fairly well; I didn’t quite catch it, but I knocked into the fairway fine enough. Jack caught his solid, but he hooked it into the pine needles and it skipped and rolled into the trees.

Afterward, Jack turned to me. “Well,” he said, “Looks like I had the longest drive.”

“No!” I told him, “Your drive ended up in the pine needles! You know how much run you get over there. You’ve got to hit the fairway to count for longest drive!” He had a great laugh. When it comes to longest hit, I won this one -- ask anyone who was there. You’ve got to hit the fairway.

As for the golf, I must say I’ve never seen better conditions for scoring than Thursday. Not a breath of wind, the course is soft, the greens are holding. Augusta has never played easier in the 56 years I’ve known it.

That doesn’t mean I’m not impressed with the golf. I was very impressed with what Rickie Fowler did, double-bogeying the first hole, taking another double-bogey and still shooting 68. That's very tough to do and he must be very tough mentally.

Of course, it’s marvelous to see Freddie Couples at four under par. Freddie has the swing that every weekend golfer should try to emulate, and every teacher should try to teach. If you can move like him, you’ll play well for a long, long time.

Then there’s Guan Tianliang. I was anxious to see if he would break 80. I said this morning, if he could shoot 76 at 14 years of age that would be an unbelievable score. If he could break 76, it would be the round of the day. Just him being here is a golfing miracle. And to shoot 73! After a good round at Augusta, I found it so difficult to calm down. The next morning, I forced myself to do everything in slow motion when preparing for my round. I spoke slower. I put my shoes on slower. I drove to the club slower, I took my first practice swings slower. All just to stay steady, to keep my mind composed. I hope Guan does the same. I cannot wait to see how he plays tomorrow.

As for the rest of them, it’s only Thursday. I never, ever let the first round influence my thinking. There’s no such thing as a lead at the Masters until you hole the last put on the last hole. Then you have permission to celebrate.

--Gary Player

Photo: Matt Slocum/Associated Press

April 10, 2013

Gary Player's Masters Diary Day 3 -- 'Champions Dinner'

Posted at 10:11 PM by

By Gary Player

Gary Player will share his thoughts from Augusta all week for

We had a great Champions Dinner on Tuesday night. It felt like there were 50 people in the room. I swear the table itself keeps growing every year. But it was wonderful to exchange stories with the greats. Each time, there is something new to hear. Like this year: Ben Crenshaw told me that, when Jones and MacKenzie built the course, they were playing on it four months after they first broke ground. That's unbelievable! I've never heard of a golf course being completed so quickly. But from the start, Augusta would never be an average golf course.

Each year at the Champions Dinner, people seem to go to the same chair. I sit next to Nick Faldo, and, since he earned his invitation, Charl Schwartzel. It's always the same group near us: Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, and Charles Coody. Last night, we talked about everything -- everything golf, that is. About how the course is in marvelous shape, about who we think will win, about the 14-year-old boy in the field this week, and the 15-year-old Lydia Ko who is the leading lady golfer in New Zealand. There are endless interesting subjects in this game of ours, and we tried to talk about as many as we could.

I have a wonderful meal planned for tonight as well. We'll have 100 people over to the house for our annual braai -- which means a South African cookout. We welcome guests from all over the globe: Peru, South Africa, Australia, China, India, Britain -- the list goes on. We'll have food from each of them, and, best of all, we'll have the foods from back home in South Africa. That means lots of grits (since we do eat grits in South Africa), lots of corn, and all sorts of meat. Bubba's menu can't compare. That's not his fault. He had to pick one meal for a bunch of guys; we have food from across the world-- a little bit of everything. It's the United Nations of eating. A great way to cap a lovely Wednesday.

Earlier this afternoon, I played in the Par 3 Contest with Jack and Arnold. It's a lighthearted event, as always, but I still wanted to win it. I had my grandson Sebastian on the bag caddying for me. My wife and I have 22 grandchildren, and now I've had 20 caddie for me in the Par 3. We've got two more to go. I can't wait to give them their chance, because it's such fun, and pure Augusta. Just to walk the grounds -- the Par 3 is in as good condition as the course itself -- and to see the enjoyment and excitement in those galleries. It follows the Masters tradition, with all the screaming and yelling, with guys getting birdies and eagles and hitting great shots. A couple of people had hole-in-ones today, and you could hear the shouts echo and build through the pines. Not like they will on Sunday -- not yet -- but not like any place else, either. What a wonderful introduction to the tournament itself.

Already there's a tremendous competitive energy in the air here. You can feel it, just being around the players. They know what they're going to have to do. They're going to have to beat Tiger Woods. And I think that's going to be very tough. If he wants to pass Nicklaus's record, he'll have to start winning majors again soon. But he's got healthy, healthy competition this year. I like Ernie Els; he hasn't been playing well since winning the British Open, but now I think the pressure is off him. I expect him to have a good showing. Then there's Rory McIlroy, who shot that good last round last week. (I met him and his girlfriend today -- what a beautiful girl! I couldn't help pulling his leg. "My goodness," I said to Rory, "No wonder you haven't been playing well lately!")

On Wednesday night, it's impossible to say who will win any one week. With guys this good, it's always wide open. All I can predict is that we'll have exciting golf, and that whoever gets the hottest putter will wear the green jacket come Sunday.

For the second year, I'll have the privilege of opening all the competition alongside Jack and Arnold tomorrow morning. As Honorary Starters, we'll hit the first shots off the first tee at 7:45 a.m. I wore white today because of the heat, but I think tomorrow I'll wear black. I'll need that power to match what's come before. I remember watching Jock Hutchinson and Fred McLeod hit that shot 57 years ago. And then I watched Sam Snead, and all the others after him. Now here we are, Jack, Arnold and I, and time goes by so quickly. Now we're the old geezers hitting off. Funny, how that works.

(Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

April 09, 2013

Gary Player's Masters Diary Day 2 -- 'Back on the Course'

Posted at 10:18 PM by

By Gary Player

Gary Player will share his thoughts from Augusta all week for

It was a cold morning today, and I got up early to go play with two South African boys, George Coetzee and Branden Grace, for my first practice round in four years. But I was thrilled to be back on the course, playing with these young guys and playing before the patrons again. The galleries were fantastic -- to me, to everyone. That cold morning became an astonishing Augusta Tuesday.

It's remarkable how this golf course has changed over the years. It goes beyond the added distance. Augusta National is forever evolving. Even the practice range. They've had four practice ranges since I first came to the property. And this new one must have cost 100-million bucks! It has to be the most expensive practice area that's ever been thought of.

Some things, though, never change at Augusta. For instance, they always think of everything. Today, with that chill in the air, I went to wipe my club in the water buckets by the range and the water was warm. They've got warm water for your clubs! Things you'd never think of are taken care of in advance. But what else would you expect? Everything is immaculate. The poor greenkeepers work like they'd be fired if anyone found a single weed anywhere on the grounds. Who knows? They might.

These days, the greens aren't that much faster than some of the other courses that we play, but the slope here that makes them play much quicker. On some putts you get yourself in impossible positions to recover from. At Augusta it comes down to knowing where to miss -- knowing when to play for the flag, and when to play for par. This idea that you've always got to go for birdie is hogwash; you cannot force Augusta National's hand. It requires great patience to play golf here. If you don't have it, you need be Houdini to make par.

I shared as much of that as I could with the young guys today. They kept asking questions, and I kept telling them about all the things I've picked up over the years. I told them about the years themselves, the history of the holes, how they used to be. (I showed them the spot on the right of 16 that I mentioned yesterday, from where Arnold made his birdie in 1962, when he beat me in the playoff. They didn't believe that putt could possibly be holed.)

In all, it was a spectacular morning. And tonight, I'm going to the Champions Dinner, one of the great evenings of the year. It'll be interesting to see what Bubba Watson serves. He's an old country boy -- I wouldn't be surprised if he gave us grits and some jerky. We'll see what happens. By the time you've played all day, anything they serve tastes good. Walking 18 holes at Augusta is like walking 27 at a normal golf course. Up and down and up all day -- television does no justice to the topography of this golf course.

No matter what is served, the Champions Dinner is a wonderful tradition. Having been attending since the days of Ben Hogan, who organized the first one, it's absolutely remarkable how today's players have carried the tradition in exactly the way it was meant to be. To have that room full of champions once a year -- to hear their stories and catch up on their lives -- it's like a class reunion.

In 1962, I was the first international to choose the menu. I didn't want to come across as cocky. I could imagine a room full of golfing legends all yelling, "Foreign food? You fool!" I told the cook, "Look, I'm going to have a little bit of grits, and some chicken." Then, as I thought about it, I became self-conscious again. I went back to the cook: "Well, maybe put some steak on the menu," I added. "Just in case they don't like chicken."

Now, it's nice to see a champion add a little bit of his home country's flair to the menu. Today people from all over the world play the Masters, and everyone gets a standing ovation. This morning at the gym I met Guan Tianliang, a 14-year-old from China playing at Augusta National. I only started to pick up a club at 14 and here he is. I tell you, it's got to be one of the miracles of golf. Maybe one day he'll earn a seat at the champions' table. Who can be sure? But I do know that he'll have many, many trips back to Augusta. Look at me: I've been attending the same dinner party for 51 years. That's a long time to keep a reservation. But as they say, the price is right.

(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)

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