Sun City - The
evergreen Gary Player issued a warning to his fellow competitors in this week’s
Gary Player Invitational when he came through Friday’s
official tournament pro-am at the Lost City Golf Club declaring his game to be
in excellent shape.
“I played really well today. I’m fortunate in that I score an
average of 70 when I play. Even on a bad day I beat my age by six shots,” said
Player, who in November turned 80.
“I feel grateful to have reached the age of
80 and still feel like 50.”
Friday’s official pro-am set the tone for a thrilling 36-hole
tournament to come on the weekend and featuring a stellar list of sports stars,
celebrities and business leaders. And all eyes will be on Player to see if he
can defend the title he won in spectacular fashion here last year.
On that occasion, the Grand Slam champion broke his age by 11
shots in the final round as he led his team to a six-stroke victory on 29 under
par, and his individual score on the final day beat three-time Major champion
It was a moment witnessed by Aaron Mokoena, his playing partner
and a participant again in this year’s Gary Player Invitational.
“It’s great to see him still so healthy, and I hope he does win it
again because he has so much energy and it rubs off on us,” said the former
Bafana Bafana captain.
“For me, winning is great. But the more important thing is just to
be here again supporting this great cause and helping Gary in giving back. I
have so much respect for the work he does for charity. To me he is like Nelson
Mandela in a white skin.”
Olympic swimming champion Roland Schoeman can certainly appreciate
Player’s longevity in his sport. Schoeman will seek to become the first South
African to have competed at five Olympic Games as he hopes to qualify for Rio
in 2016, and says Player’s dedication to fitness has inspired him.
“Gary is a living legend. You have to admire how he broke with the
tradition of the time in his sport and started training with weights and took
his fitness seriously. That’s why he can still be out here at the age of 80. He
eats well and takes care of himself, and for me as an athlete that’s an
FIELD FOR THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL:
Jean van de Velde
For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING