Gary Player’s legacy within South African golf and that of his late wife Vivienne and their philanthropic efforts will be celebrated on the Sunshine Tour this week at the Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge, which tees off at White River Country Club on Wednesday.
This 54-hole tournament forms part of a strong tribute over the next few months on Player’s significant role within the South African game.
The winner of this week’s R2-million tournament as well as the next leading 26 professionals in the field will all secure a place in the prestigious Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational at Sun City in November, where a collection of professional golfers, celebrities, sports stars and business leaders will come together to raise funds for The Gary and Vivienne Player Foundation.
And the Nedbank Golf Challenge, also played in November, will celebrate Player’s role in the launching of this iconic tournament.
But it is this week’s tournament in White River that holds a special place in Player’s heart as a celebration of not only his contribution to the growth of the South African game, but also recognition of the phenomenal impact his late wife Vivienne had in his own career and the launching of The Gary and Vivienne Player Foundation, and its global work for charity.
“Vivienne and I were together for 72 years. I was blessed with the most wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She passed away in my arms, and her last words to me were, ‘Please make sure you keep our foundation going for these young children’,” said Player ahead of this week’s tournament.
“Throughout my golf career I have been in a position to help raise millions of dollars to support those less fortunate.”
This week’s tournament is played on a White River Country Club course which Player himself helped to design and the field is a typically strong Sunshine Tour one, including the two latest champions in young stars Ryan van Velzen and Luca Filippi.
“White River is such a beautiful part of the country and the White River Country Club course is a very enjoyable course. The Sunshine Tour has done so much to produce wonderful champions over the years, and I’m looking forward to seeing them take on the challenge this week,” said Player. – Michael Vlismas