Gary Player's Perspective on The Presidents Cup
September 29, 2015
By Kenneth Quillinan, Special to PGATOUR.COM
- September 29, 2015
- Photo courtesy: Black Knight Archives
Gary Player is in an elite group of only five golfers to ever win the illustrious Grand Slam - and the only one from outside of the United States. There is no doubting that this charismatic South African is one of the best players in history of golf. He also holds close ties with The Presidents Cup and recently shared his thoughts about next week’s competition to be held in Korea.
What is your best memory from previous Presidents Cups?
When I was captain in South Africa of the International Team in 2003, Jack Nicklaus, the American captain, and I decided after the third playoff hole that the match should end in a tie. There couldn’t have been a better ending to the tournament. It was one of the greatest moments in the history of golf and very special to be a part of.
If you were captaining the International Team this year, what advice would you offer up to them?
Simply to play better. They have the talent to win. Just play better.
What are your thoughts on the International Team’s prospects and South African trio gunning for glory?
It should be time for the International Team to win. The players have talent and the team will get strong leadership from Nick Price. The Presidents Cup is one of the best sporting events in the world.
And a strong contingent of South Africans on the team must please you too?
Absolutely. Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel all have had a good year. It is impressive that a small country like South Africa continues to produce some of the best players in the world. I look forward to seeing all of them compete on this year’s team.
Are you happy to see the recent changes in the competitions format?
Yes. I don’t know if the changes will make a difference, but that is what was decided. As long as nothing is taken away from the fans, it should be fine.
The U.S. Team will put a lot of expectation on the shoulders of Jordan Spieth. It’s still very early in his career, but you must be highly impressed by him?
He is having a remarkable year. Amazing to think that he is just 22. No doubt he is wise beyond his years. You can tell this young man was raised well by his parents. He says and does all the right things. He is has all the makings of a superstar. I expect him to step up and play very well.
Do you think he is as good now as you, Nicklaus and Palmer were in your heyday?
His 2015 season has been superb. Jordan is a remarkable talent and in my opinion is the best putter in the world today. The key for him, just like any golfer, is longevity. Can he continue to win next year, 10 years from now, 20 years from now? He looks like he has the head and game for it.
The possibility of a Spieth and Day rivalry looks to be a real possibility. How excited are you about this?
There is a great amount of young talent on the PGA TOUR right now. You could probably throw a few more names into that list like Rickie Fowler, amongst others. Fans and the media sort of create golf’s rivalries. The best thing that can happen to golf is these guys keep winning majors and competing head to head.
Do you think Grace or any other South African can reach their level on a consistent basis?
I believe all of them have the talent. They are among the top players in the world. We should expect to see more majors to come from South Africans in future.
What’s your opinion on the state of the game at the moment?
The professional game is extremely healthy. I saw the FedExCup champion will make more money than I did in my entire playing career. That is an amazing stat.
But the amateur game needs the most attention and help. We need to find new ways to draw more rounds from the public, and it starts by making golf courses more playable.
You have had an amazing career both on and off the course, but what memory stands out for you as the one you cherish the most?
The day I married my wife, Vivienne, is the most important and best memory I have ever made. And winning the Grand Slam at the age of 29 was the best moment in my golf career.
Your advice is second to none when it comes to golf, so can you please share some with the next generation of golfers?
The harder you practice, the luckier you get.
Any big plans for the milestone birthday in November?
I plan to celebrate with family and close friends in South Africa.
It’s great to see you so active on Twitter, congratulating the weekly winners on the various tours. Why do you feel that it is important to do this?
I like to stay involved in the golfing world. It’s fun to congratulate all the winners that are working so hard to reach their goals. Something I will always remember is when I first spoke to Ben Hogan. He said few words, but they meant so much and encouraged me.
You are very dedicated to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so can you provide an insight into your daily exercise routine?
When I am not traveling, I work out four or five times per week. I make sure to stretch my legs, back, arms and neck. I do 1,000 crunches (the last set with extra weight), squats, several core exercises, weighted wrist roles, leg presses and sprints on the treadmill. I also make sure to fuel my body with proper food and hydration.
Finally, it’s a question that is asked to most golfers and your name pops up on many occasions; what would be your dream four ball?
Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Mother Theresa and the late Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew.