A few weeks before The Open Championship at Royal Troon in mid-July, Golf Monthly got to visit the host venue, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz – Official Patron of The Open Championship, play the course and spend some time with the now 80-year-old Gary Player, a three-time champion in golf’s oldest Major.
Player’s victories came in 1959 at Muirfield, in 1968 at Carnoustie and finally in 1974 at Royal Lytham & St Annes, a year in which he had also already won the Masters. Over the course of the morning Gary Player shared his thoughts on The Open Championship with us, reflecting on his first win and the history and prestige of this great event.
He was in irrepressible form, talking us through his concerns for the game going forwards because of modern driving distances, which one day fairly soon might mean players potentially being able to drive eight of the greens on the Old Course at St Andrews.
In the accompanying video, Player not only talks passionately about The Open Championship, reflecting fondly on the slightly brusque reception he got when he first arrived at Muirfield in 1959 hoping to practise for the event, but also offer up his thoughts on Tiger Woods, lamenting his decision to start tinkering with his swing when he was on top of the world, and on Jordan Spieth who he would love to be given the opportunity to spend half an hour with on the range.
Later, Player reappeared to see us on our way as we set out to tackle Royal Troon’s mighty test, despatching an arrow-straight drive down the middle for our team to use, and then on the par-3 14th into the prevailing back-nine headwind to play the hole with each group passing through, calmly slotting in a 20-footer for birdie to help boost our team score.