Gary Player is a 9-time Major Champion and holds numerous records for the Masters Tournament including most tournaments played and most consecutive cuts made. Player dons multiple Green Jackets, winning in 1961, 1974 and 1978, and is “Golf’s Global Ambassador.” Balls & Bogeys caught up with the Black Knight ahead of the 87th edition of the Masters Tournament.
Do you like Scottie Scheffler’s menu this year for the Champions Dinner?
I am excited to honor Scottie, he is a true gentleman and everything a professional golfer should strive to be. As far as the menu, the red fish caught my eye. That looks delicious. I don’t know about the cheeseburger slider appetizer. If I eat that, I’ll take the bread off. And instead of the cookie, I’ll probably opt for a bowl of fresh berries. That’s one thing I love about the dinner, you can order off the menu if you so desire.
Any chance you make another hole-in-one at the Par 3?
There’s always a chance, right? That was quite a moment for me back in 2016. There were so many people crowded around that hole, I’m not sure if I have ever heard a louder roar at Augusta. Winning a “closest to the pin” trophy is always one of my goals. I’m going to give it my best go.
What are your nerves like before the Ceremonial Tee Shot?
It’s a privilege and not one that I take lightly. No doubt it’s an honor to have been a starter for more than a decade now with Jack, Tom, Lee and Arnold. Throughout our careers, Jack always outdrove me. He was one of the longest hitters on Tour. It wasn’t until the last few years where I started edging him off the tee. I take great pride at 87 years old that I still hit the ball as far as I do off the tee. The morning of the Ceremonial Tee Shot, I am preparing early. Stretching and warming up just as if I was playing a full round. I want to outdrive Jack every time we play together.
Who is your pick to win this week?
There are what, 89, of the best players in the world competing? Nearly impossible to get it right. But I’m high on Rory again this year. I’ve picked him, I think, probably every year since he started chasing the career Grand Slam. He has been playing fantastic golf lately. I really feel like this is his year. Just needs to play his game and hopefully his putter gets hot. The winner may be a surprise as it often is at Augusta. Watch out for Billy Horschel and Gary Woodland, too.
What if a LIV Golfer is putting on the Green Jacket next Sunday?
I will be happy for whoever this year’s champion is. The Green Jacket is the one thing that binds all of us past champions together. It’s a tremendous achievement and will be celebrated no matter which Tour they currently play on.
Photo Credit: Bo Wood