So much for that.
Almost 50 years later, Player is one of the greatest the game has ever seen with nine major titles and the career Grand Slam. And at 71 he's got the body of a man half his age, thanks to 1 1/2 -hour workouts five days a week.
'I exercise like a Trojan,' Player said Monday, standing up and slapping his rock-hard stomach for emphasis. 'I want to live a long time. I have 18 grandchildren and probably will end up having about 22, and my greatest joy is doing things with them.
'I'd like to live to 100, I certainly would. Because I have such a zest for life.'
Player was a fitness fanatic long before it was in vogue. Now that golfers have realized he was onto something -- Tiger Woods is one of the fittest athletes in any sport -- Player wants to tackle the rest of the world.
In the United States alone, Player said, 3,500 deaths each day can be traced back to obesity. If people don't start taking better care of themselves, health care costs will continue to skyrocket.
'The obesity factor is, in my humble opinion, the biggest single danger to the world today,' he said. 'I want to try and make young guys say, `Look at this guy, 71, he can still play, he can still walk around. You look good.' Because really, this is a very, very serious thing, and it's being overlooked.
'They are reducing exercise, they are eating more (junk),' he added. 'If you look at the amount of money it's going to cost countries, it's staggering.'
This will be Player's 50th Masters, tying a record set three years ago by Arnold Palmer. Though he's made the cut only four times in the last 20 years, he can still come close to shooting his age occasionally.
He'd like to play at least one more year at Augusta National so he can hold the record for most Masters played. He already holds the record for most consecutive British Opens played, at 46.
'Possibly next year could be my last,' he said. 'I'm not committing myself. ... I don't want to say it's my last time and then come back. I don't want to do that.
'When I say that's my last, please, if I come and tee it up, steal the ball. Take the ball off the first tee and run away with it.'
GOTTA BE THE SHOES:
Geoff Ogilvy is moving in on Jesper Parnevik's territory.
The U.S. Open champion will be sporting a pair of gold golf shoes for Wednesday's practice round, and will also wear them one other day during the Masters tournament.
'Classy gold, if that can be done,' Ogilvy said Monday. 'They are gold-gold, like (sprinter) Michael Johnson-in-Atlanta gold. They are nice. They are good shoes.'
But gold? The Australian certainly has style -- staid golfwear isn't his thing -- but his clothes aren't even in the same closet as Parnevik's outlandish garb. Parnevik, of course, is the guy who wears pegged pants, and has outfits in colors and patterns usually found on Garanimals.
But when Puma, Ogilvy's sponsor, asked if he'd wear the shoes, Ogilvy said OK. Johan Edfors will wear a similar pair sometime this week.
'They are pretty cool,' Ogilvy said. 'When I heard gold shoes, I raised an eyebrow. But actually when I got them, they are pretty sweet. I think they're nice.'
Asked how they'd go with a green jacket, Ogilvy smiled.
'Anything goes with a green jacket, I think,' he said.
JACK OR TIGER?
Asked to name the greatest player in golf history, Gary Player settled for a tie.
Jack Nicklaus was a better driver than Tiger Woods, and putted just as well, Player said. He gave Woods the edge with wedges, flop shots, sand shots and chipping. Both are incredibly strong mentally.
'It's hard to (pick one) when they played in different eras,' Player said. 'Jack Nicklaus' record is superior at the moment, but if anybody is going to beat it, it's Tiger Woods.'
Nicklaus won 18 major championships, including six Masters. But Woods is closing fast. Only 31, he's already won 12 majors, including the last two.
One look at Chris DiMarco's golf bag, and it was obvious who he was rooting for in Monday night's NCAA tournament.
There was the knit blue-and-orange head cover. There was the leather head cover with 'Gators' in big, bold letters. There was the putter cover with the Gators logo.
And in case there was still any doubt, the Florida alum added a new logo to his bag Monday that proclaimed the Gators the 2006 national champions in both football and basketball.
The Gators, trying to become the first team since Duke in 1992 to repeat as national champions, played Ohio State on Monday night. In January, Florida upset the Buckeyes for the football title.
'Ohio State's a great team,' said DiMarco, who also was wearing an orange shirt. 'The one thing is, our kids are extremely focused. They came back for one reason and one reason only, and that was to win a national title.'
Though the game was only two hours away in Atlanta, DiMarco said the 9 p.m. tipoff made it too late for him to attend in person. But he was with the Gators in spirit.
When Tiger Woods walked by him, DiMarco asked who he was rooting for. Ohio State, Woods said.
'Come on,' DiMarco groaned.
'You see this?' DiMarco asked, turning around his golf bag to show off the new logo. 'One day Stanford might be able to get that for you. But right now, no chance.'
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