Here’s one record that I think even Tiger will never own: When the Masters kicks off next week, Gary Player will tee it up for the fifty first time. And just not with a ceremonial first shot off the tee. Given what we know about the eternally young champion, he probably thinks he has a chance to make the weekend.
I wouldn’t put it past him. When I saw him at the Ford Championship two summers ago, I was amazed at the shots he was making.
But even if he doesn’t make the weekend, playing in 51 Masters is an incredible achievement. Most of the players he will face weren’t even alive when he first played Augusta National.
Ian Woosnam put the Masters Tournament record Gary Player will break in two weeks in perspective.
“I’m 50 years of age, and he’s played there 51 years,” he said of Player, who will break the record for the most starts at Augusta National he currently shares with Arnold Palmer. “It is mind-boggling.”
Some have criticized Player, saying that he’s only hanging on to pass Palmer, but he doesn’t see it that way. The fitness fanatic says that his primary motivation is to serve as an inspiration for others.
Player said his main motivation for playing in a record number of tournaments isn’t something he views as a personal goal fulfilled, but an example for youth.
“What gives me the thrill is the fact that I can influence a lot of young people,” he said. “My dream now is to influence them to look after their bodies. We’re riddled with it, obesity. This is a concern to me. I want to see the young people look after their bodies. It’s a natural thing that I would like to leave a legacy, as far as young people are concerned.”
He certainly inspires me. Watching him play, I know that there are a LOT of good years of golf (and life) ahead of me.