Gary Players' 52nd Masters Appearance to be His Last

Gary PlayerThe man who has been hailed as the "World's Most Traveled Athlete" won't be making any more trips to Augusta, not as a player at least.

Monday the legendary Gary Player announced that his 52nd Masters would be his last. Player became only the third man to capture golf's grand slam in 1965. When he won the Masters in 1961, he became the first international player to win the event. In all, Player won nine professional PGA Tour majors and nine Champions Tour majors, including three Masters titles.

During his farewell press conference Player spoke about his fond memories of playing at Augusta National and its patrons, his conversations with President Eisenhower, his battles with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, the importance of staying in shape and his admiration for current Masters chairman Billy Payne.

Player, who is nearly as old as the Masters tournament itself, says he is walking away a happy man who's accomplished more than he ever imagined he would through the game of golf.

"I've had such a wonderful career," he said. "My goodness, when I think of the career I've had; you can't have it all and I did have it all.

"So I"m very happy in my life," Player continued. "I actually prefer ranching to golf now, and I have one of the most magnificent ranches in the world in South Africa. I'm still going to come back here. I'm still going to come to the dinner. I'm still going to come to this tournament and I'm still going to see all of these young guys and how they are progressing. I'm still going to be playing some tournaments on the Senior Tour, so I'm not getting out of golf.

"But there comes a time, and one thing I can tell you, when I tell you that it's here, this is it. You will not see me come back and play this tournament. That's for sure. I ain't going to do that."

Player, who has now spent what amounts to one year of his life competing at Augusta National, said the length of the golf course is now too much for him to handle, and primarily that's the reason why he is walking away this week.

"The golf course," Player said. "I'm excercising profusely, but it's very difficult at 73 to build strength.The golf course is so long. It's just so long. I mean, I'm hitting a wood to almost every single hole. That's why I'm retiring from it now, so I don't have to."

 

Three victories, 15 top ten finishes, a record 23 consecutive cuts and 52 years later, Player joins seven fellow South Africans in the field this week, including last year's Champion Trevor Immelman. Immelman is the 2nd South African to win a Green Jacket after Player.

"I've played all around the world and made a lot of friends," Player said. "It's been a great education. It's nice to feel that possibly my wins I experienced here encouraged the international players to realize that they could win here."

Player has also been a two-time runner-up at the Masters (1962 & 1965) and has finished in the top five on eight occasions. He surpassed Arnold Palmer's record of 50 Masters appearances when he competed for the 51st time last year, shooting a 78 on Friday under difficult conditions. Player deems that one of his best rounds of all time at the Masters - certainly in his top ten.

 

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