Gary Player Celebrates The 50th Anniversary Of His First PGA Championship Victory In 1962
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 Championship 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 (S.C.) 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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ABOUT GARY PLAYER
Gary Player, often referred to as the Black Knight, symbolizes all that world class golf is or was ever intended to be. A champion in every sense of the word, he has won 165 professional tournaments worldwide and through the philanthropic efforts of his foundation generated over $50 million dollars for the education of underprivileged children. Player, a master of the game, and a world leader in golf course design is credited with shaping more than 325 courses worldwide.
When Gary Player won the US Open in 1965 at age 29, he became only the third golfer to win the Grand Slam, following Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen. Since then, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have added their names to this elite group. Player has, to date, won nine major championships on the regular PGA Tour and nine on the Senior or Champions Tour. He is a three time President's Cup Captain and in 2000 received South Africa's Sportsman of the Century Award.
In addition to his 40 years of golf course design, Player currently serves as the Global Ambassador to the World Golf Hall of Fame and holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from St. Andrews University. His legendary career and humanitarian endeavors have been acknowledged by numerous awards, including the 2012 PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2006 PGA Tour Payne Stewart Award, and the 2003 Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Player has circled the globe in pursuit of sporting events, and after journeying over 15 million miles, or 25 million kilometers, he is widely recognized as The World's Most Traveled Athlete™. When not traveling to or from sporting events, Player divides his time between the South African stud farm where he has bred over 2000 winning thoroughbred race horses and his residence on Jupiter Island in Hobe Sound, Florida.
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