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Gary Player, the Black Knight, has said enough is enough. The popular South African has decided this will be his last Masters. It also happens to be his 52nd in a row, which means he has played The Masters for an entire year of his life. “When I basically arrived here,1957, and I drove through those gates and I couldn't help making a comparison to today. I arrived here, I doubt whether I had $5,000 to my name. And the people I've met over the years, and the battles that I had with Arnold and Jack and others, and now to see all of these young fellows coming along. I played with some of them this morning,” Player said. “When I think of the players that I played with today, Martin Kaymer said to me, ‘Well, how many times have you played here?’ I suddenly realized that most of the players in the field, other than the senior players weren't even born when I first played here. So it is an awful long time.”
But Player’s memories appear to be flooded not so much by the birdies and bogeys he made throughout the years, but by the people he met and became friends with. “I was very honored and privileged to have been around with President Eisenhower when I came here. He really said something very significant. Arnold and I had dinner with him and he said, ‘America is a very global society.’ And how correct he was,” Player recalled. With that, he also pointed out something about his adopted country, of sorts. “America has been this great Samaritan, and in all respects, education for people, helping people, medically, money-wise, everything,” Player said, “and that you have two ambassadors from America, like Arnold and Jack, whose manners were impeccable and wonderful golfers and great ambassadors.”
The wee mon, knows that his game was elevated throughout the years when he had two of the very best to compete against. “We never, ever teed up thinking that somebody else was going to beat us, never,” he said. “We never teed up thinking that Jack would beat me or Arnold would beat me. And we never teed up -- neither of us ever thought we were going to get beaten, and that was great that we were such fierce competitors. I mean, we had a passion. We had a great passion for the Tour, and to compete and to try and beat each other. And we told each other we were trying to beat each other,” he added.
But the characters Player recalled didn’t always reside inside the ropes that he competed against. “I was in Fort Worth one year, a guy gave me a ride to Houston and he had his putter on the lap,” he began. “I'm thinking I'm going to go take the Greyhound bus to Houston from Fort Worth. I know it's too extravagant to go flying and this guy said, ‘What are you doing sitting here for?’ I said, I don't know how I'm going to get in Houston. He said, ‘Oh, I'll give you a ride.’