Join Gary Player and Zach Johnson as they enjoy one of Gary’s most memorable experiences as a young professional at the 1955 Open Championship.
I was playing at St. Andrews. I arrived there in 1955 and a few people know this story. I only had £200 in my pocket. I had to make it or go back home. And I went to the hotel, they wanted £80 pounds…£70 pounds for a room, so I went and slept on the beach on that night where they did Chariots of Fire. And the next day I got a room for £1.20. And anyway, I got on the first tee at Augusta, and I was very… I mean St. Andrews. I was very nervous, and they had this big dower Scot, he said, “Play away, laddie.”
Now, you know the first fairway is so wide at St. Andrews, Ray Charles couldn’t miss it. And I stood there, and I was nervous, and I hooked the ball and hit that white fence and came back inside the fence thank goodness. And I went to pick up my tee. In those days, you picked up your tee because you paid two cents a tee, which is equivalent to 30 cents a tee now. Not only did you pick yours up, but you also picked everybody else’s up that was lying there.
So, he says to me, “Hey, laddie, where are you from?” I said, “I’m from South Africa, sir.” And he says, “And what’s your name?” I said, “It’s Gary Player.” And he says, “And what’s your handicap?” I said, “No I’m a pro.” He says, “You’re a pro?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “You must be a hell of a chipper and putter because you can’t drive the ball very well, laddie.”
So, you wouldn’t believe it, Zach, I’m the youngest man to win the British Open at 23. I come back three years later, and he sees me, and he says, “It’s a miracle.” He says, “In fact, looking at you, it’s a mirage. I never thought you could do that.”
WHO IS GARY PLAYER?
Gary Player is the most successful international golfer of all time. He has achieved the kind of worldwide acclaim reserved for only a handful of sporting greats. Player has won 165 professional golf tournaments worldwide and is one of only five men to capture golf’s coveted career Grand Slam. He won nine Major championships on the PGA TOUR – including three Masters Tournaments, and nine Major championships on the Senior Tour – and he is the only player in history to complete the career Grand Slam on both Tours.
WHO IS ZACH JOHNSON?
Zach Johnson, an Iowa native and American professional golfer, has been playing golf since age ten. Johnson turned pro in 1998. In 2007, he won the Masters Tournament by a margin of two strokes. It was his first major title and made him the first player ranked outside the top fifty to win the Masters in the history of the ranking. Johnson has captured twelve PGA TOUR wins including the 2015 Open Championship.