Gary Player - June 17, 2012

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World Golf Hall of Fame Member Gary Player is one of five men to win the Career Grand Slam and he won the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri. He became the first international U.S. Open Champion in over 40 years and with that win, he won the Career Grand Slam. He gives a lot of credit to Jack Nicklaus who convinced him to go to Bellerive early to practice with him instead of playing in Greensboro. While Nicklaus did not hit any shots for him that week, Player still gives Nicklaus much credit for winning the 1965 U.S. Open.

Over the years, the green speeds have become faster in the U.S. Open in part because of the types of grasses that are on the greens but the rough was much, much higher in the past than in U.S. Opens today. He remembers how the rough at the 1955 U.S. Open was almost a foot high but you do not see that today.

Looking at this year’s U.S. Open, he was thrilled to see the 14-year-old Andy Zhang from China earn a place in the field as the youngest competitor in U.S. Open history as it is more proof of the strength of golf’s future worldwide. The competition has been very exciting and he is obviously rooting for Ernie Els to win his 3rd U.S. Open and his 4th Major today. If he could pick another player he would want to win, he would pick Lee Westwood because he wants to see him win his first Major title.

When asked about Tiger Woods, Player said that while Tiger played well over the first two days, he unfortunately did not play well on Saturday. But he is only five shots back on a golf course that is very difficult so you can not entirely write him off in the final round because he could post a low score and everyone could fail to match him.

When he was playing as a young man, he travelled with weights and many people felt that he would not be successful in the game of golf because at that time there weren’t any players other than Frank Stranahan who lifted weights and in 1965, he could lift 325 pounds from a squat position. It gave him a great sense of pride when he won tournaments because he could then say to people that weights were there to stay.