Gary Player Returns To Aronimink Still Looking To Play
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa.: Jack Nicklaus asked his old friend Gary Player during a recent phone call just how many rounds of golf he still played each week.
The Black Knight of golf, Player, who turns 85 on Nov. 1, said he scheduled a tee time every day he could including a recent round with Charles Barkley and would play seven days a week if not for his wife battling pancreatic cancer.
Nicklaus lamented, Ive played five times in the last two months.
Now if you look at my shape compared to him …, Player said, laughing as his sentence trailed off and he flexed, looking more like Jack LaLanne than any old octogenarian bound for the retirement home.
Player was just happy he had a friend his age to talk to about golf.
Im 85 and all my friends are dead, he said.
Player was back Saturday at Aronimink Golf Club, home of this weekends Womens PGA Championship, and the site of his 1962 PGA Championship victory. The South African golfer is the only non-American to win all four major championships, taking home three British Opens, three Masters, two PGAs and one U.S. Open. He won 24 PGA Tour titles overall. He then won 19 times on the Senior Tour, including two U.S. Senior Opens and four other majors.
Aronimink, which originally was designed by Donald Ross and has hosted several prestigious championships, is where Player won his first PGA Championship, by one shot over Bob Goalby. Its a course he still plays when he can always grateful for the opportunity.
I had a putt here the other day, the exact putt I had when I won, when I beat Bob Goalby, my friend, Player said. I had the exact putt and I said, How lucky am I.
Player won $13,000 for his win at Aronimink. The women this weekend are competing for their share of a $4.3 million purse, with the winner earning $645,000.
Womens golf has got a great future, but it depends on the leadership, and womens golf has very, very good leadership, he said.
Player and his wife stay have stayed with their daughter through the COVID-19 pandemic in Schwenksville and will return to their South Florida home at the end of the month. His wife, Vivienne, has struggled with cancer and Player has tried to make the most of their time together.
Ive been with my wife for 70 years. Whew. It is a tough thing to live with, he said. But weve all got our cross to bear somewhere.
But while hes in Pennsylvania, Player has enjoyed as many courses as he can in the area, even playing in a group with Barkley earlier this month at Commonwealth National Golf Club in Horsham.
Player quipped he told Barkley, you were my size when you were 5.
Everybody was telling me what a bad golfer he was, Player said. He played fantastic.
Player also holds U.S Open champion Bryson DeChambeau in high regard, even as his long-bomb approach to the golf has been criticized by some of his peers. DeChambeau swings for the fences and changes in equipment and athleticism have made it easier to morph into a long-drive specialist. Player called for changes notably from golf ball and equipment manufacturers but refused to criticize DeChambeau for building his body and swing into one of a champion.
When I was talking about weight training when I started in 1944, they all said I was mad, you cant play golf with weights, Player said. Thank goodness Tiger Woods came along to enhance it, and now Bryson DeChambeau has come along, another level.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports