Gary Player Looks Back At First PGA Championship Victory

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As golf's top players tee off at Kiawah Island Golf Resort's Ocean Course for the final major championship of the season, nine-time major winner and golf icon Gary Player will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first PGA Championship victory in 1962 at the Aronimink Golf Club.

In 1962, Player became only the second international golfer to lift the Wanamaker Trophy with a one-shot victory after holding off a strong contingent of competitors, including Bob Goalby and Jack Nicklaus.

"To know that it has been 50 years since I won my first PGA Championship is incredible. I have wonderful memories of my time at the PGA Championships, and winning my third Major Championship at Aronimink was a special moment," said Player.

At the time that Player entered into the 1962 PGA Championship, he was without a recent victory on tour, and the dominating Arnold Palmer was coming off Masters and Open Championship triumphs. Once Player stepped onto the grounds of Aronimink, however, he was immediately relaxed and invigorated.

"I played well in the practice rounds and my confidence came surging back," said Player. "I was putting like Houdini and was able to keep the ball in play, which was the most important factor throughout the week because the rough was high."

On championship Sunday, Player held off the surging American Bob Goalby, who came from four strokes behind to come within one stroke of Player's lead.

"Bob Goalby and I battled during the final round on Sunday. I knew that Goalby was a wonderful competitor and I had to keep focused on playing well," recalled Player. "I will never forget the shot I hit on the 18th hole during the final round. I hit my drive to the right in the trees and for my second shot I took a three wood and aimed it 100 yards to the left of the green. I hit a massive slice around the corner onto the green to set up for a par."

Player finished the tournament scoring rounds of 72, 67, 69, and 70 for a 2-under-par 278 and a one-stroke victory.

The 1962 victory allowed Player to achieve four of his five goals in golf - win The Open, the Masters, the PGA Championship, and top the PGA Tour money list.

Player left Aronimink with newfound confidence, vision, and just the US Open Championship left to conquer the career Grand Slam, which he accomplished in 1965 at age 29. As one of only five golfers to accomplish the career Grand Slam, Player repeated his PGA Championship victory a decade later in 1972, and added three Senior PGA Championships triumphs to his resume in 1986, 1988, and 1990.

In 1974, Player was named an Honorary PGA Member to recognize his career achievements.

"I hold the PGA in high esteem because they have done so much for golf over the years and make me proud to be a professional, a PGA Member, and former champion," said Player. "We have the PGA to thank for much of the popularization of the game at the amateur level especially in regard to the game with juniors, seniors, ladies, and charitable giving through golf."

The PGA of America will celebrate the 50th anniversary with a special exhibit at the 94th PGA Championship, Aug. 6-12 at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

"We are delighted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Gary Player's first PGA Championship, during the 2012 PGA Championship," said Allen Wronowski, President of The PGA of America. "Throughout his long and distinguished career, Gary has been a tremendous champion, a wonderful gentlemen and a great ambassador for our game. His victory in 1962 at Aronimink will be fondly recalled and remembered throughout the week at Kiawah Island."

 

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