Player supports build-up to The Open with surprise school visit
Three-time Champion Golfer of the Year Gary Player was reunited with the famous Claret Jug trophy on a surprise visit to St Philip’s Church of England Primary School in Southport.
Around 1,500 schoolchildren from five schools in Sefton will come face-to-face with one of the most iconic trophies in sport this week and for the pupils of St Philip’s, the experience included the opportunity to talk with an Open Champion.
Player, 81, practised harder, travelled further and was more meticulous about his diet and fitness than any other golfer of his generation.
He started playing golf aged 14 and turned professional three years later, embarking on a career that required him to spend many weeks a year away from his home in South Africa. His enthusiasm for the sport helped him to win more than 160 tournaments over six decades and play in The Open 46 times and The Masters 52 times - both records.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A, said, “Gary Player secured his place in the history of The Open with his three victories and is an inspiration to millions of golfers of all ages around the world.
"We are delighted that he has been able to join the pupils at St Philip’s today to tell them about his experiences of winning one of the world’s great sporting events.”
Among nine major championship victories, Player won The Open to become Champion Golfer of the Year on three occasions, spanning three decades: at Muirfield (1959), Carnoustie (1968) and Royal Lytham & St Annes (1974).
He has a strong commitment to promoting education, establishing The Player Foundation in 1983 to provide quality education, nutrition, medical care and extra-curricular activities to less fortunate children living in rural areas of South Africa.
Today, through several annual events staged in the USA, Asia, Europe and South Africa, his foundation has raised more than £48 million for impoverished children globally.
This year marks the 21st anniversary of The Open’s 'Kids Go Free' initiative, which began at Royal Troon in 1997. Children under the age of 16 are admitted free of charge to the Championship and discounted tickets are available for youths aged 16-24.