Gary Player 2009: With 10

Gary Player

WITH 10 holes to go, the 1959 Open at Muirfield looked like being memorable for Scotland.

The leader was amateur Reid Jack, from Dullatur. Fred Bullock, from Prestwick, and Glenbervie's John Panton were right in contention. Few paid much attention to the young South African who had been eight strokes behind Bullock, leader after two rounds. But 23-year-old Gary Player had a burning hunger. His father, who'd worked in the gold mines, had borrowed to buy his teenage son clubs. Player had vowed to become the world's best golfer, and was intent on striking it rich. He knew he was on a roll on the final round, pleading with photographers: "I beg of you not to move. Remember, I am playing for my living." He stood on the final tee needing a par-4 for a 66, but plonked his ball in the first of three bunkers on the left of the fairway. He took three to reach the edge of the green, and then three-putted. He wept by the side of the 18th green. Unable to wait and watch, he retreated to his hotel. Two hours later he was summoned back to be crowned the youngest winner - a record he held until Seve Ballesteros won aged 22, in 1979. Player finished on 284, two ahead of Bullock and Belgian Flory van Donck. Panton and Jack were in a four-way tie for fifth, on 288. Peter Alliss shot the low round of the tournament, 67, but finished 16th. The 1959 event was the first Open televised live in the US, and Player seemed to be making a sartorial statement with his lurid garb. He'd worn successive ensembles of red, yellow and black, then donned salmon slacks and red, white and blue shoes for the final round.

It was the first of Player's nine majors (he won the Open another twice) but most wearing his trademark black.

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