Johannesburg - World Golf Hall of Fame member Gary Player, considered by many to be the greatest international golfer of all time, has been named the 10th recipient of the PGA Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
The winner of nine major championships, the modern Grand Slam and 165 tournament titles around the world, including 24 on the PGA Tour and 19 on the Champions Tour, Player will be honoured on May 9 at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
The Lifetime Achievement Award honours individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the Tour over an extended period of time through their actions on and off the course.
Player joins a distinguished list of past Lifetime Achievement Award recipients such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Burke Jr, Jack Nicklaus and president George HW Bush.
"This is a great honour," said Player.
"Golf has allowed me to live a truly blessed life, and I have tried my best to give something back to the sport.
"Being recognised with true gentlemen of the sport like Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson and Jack Nicklaus is humbling, and I will continue to help promote and support this wonderful game until the day I die.
"When I first arrived in America, I was not sure how I would be received as a foreign-born player, but the PGA Tour and the American fans were absolutely fantastic and made me feel like one of their own."
Player went to the United States in 1957, and upon seeing how far the game’s best professionals hit the ball, Player intensified his exercise regimen, weakened his strong grip, which encouraged a hook, and set about learning how to carry the ball further.
The next year, he won the Kentucky Derby Open and finished second at the US Open.
He won the 1959 British Open at Muirfield for his first major, made the 1961 Masters his second and the 1962 PGA at Aronimink his third.
At the 1965 US Open at Bellerive, Player defeated Kel Nagle in an 18-hole playoff to complete the modern Grand Slam by age 29.
His other majors included the 1972 PGA Championship, the 1968 and 1974 British Opens and the 1974 and 1978 Masters.
The last is perhaps Player’s proudest victory at age 42.
He began the final round seven strokes out of the lead, but he birdied seven of the final 10 holes to shoot 64 and win by a stroke.
"As one of the most accomplished players in all of sports, Gary Player’s love of golf and his desire to use his talents to help everyone he comes in contact with make him most deserving of the PGA Tour's Lifetime Achievement Award," said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.
"You would be hard pressed to find an aspect of the game or corner of the world that hasn’t been influenced by Gary and his positive attitude over the past 50-plus years.
"He epitomises the phrase ‘lifetime achievement,’ and it will be an honour to recognise him for all of his accomplishments in May."
In each year from 1955 to 1982, Player won at least one sanctioned international tournament, an unequalled 27-year streak.
He won the World Match Play title five times, the Australian Open seven times and the South African Open 13 times. In winning the 1974 Brazilian Open, he shot the only 59 ever in a national open.