He is a South African professional golfer generally regarded as one of the greatest players in the game's history.
Player is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the sport, ranking first in total professional wins, with at least a hundred and sixty-six, and tied fourth in major championship victories with nine. Along with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus he is sometimes referred to as one of the "Big Three" golfers of his era; the era in question being one when golf boomed in the United States and around the world, much encouraged by television coverage.
He is one of only five players to win golf's "career Grand Slam" alongside Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, which he completed in 1965 at the age of twenty-nine. He was the second multi-time major winner from South Africa, following on from Bobby Locke, and succeeded by Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.
Player played regularly on the U.S. based PGA Tour from the late 1950s. He won the money list in 1961, and went on to accumulate twenty four career titles. He also played an exceptionally busy schedule all over the world, and he has been called the world's most travelled athlete, clocking up more than 14 million miles. He has more victories than anyone else in the South African Open (thirteen) and the Australian Open (seven). He held the record for most victories in the World Match Play Championship, with five wins, from 1973 until 1991 when this feat was equalled by Seve Ballesteros, finally losing his share of the record in 2004, when Ernie Els won the event for a sixth time.
He was the only player in the 20th century to win the British Open in three different decades. Last won Masters in 1978, when he started seven strokes behind the leaders entering the final round and won by one shot with birdies at seven of the last 10 holes for a back nine 30 and a final round 64. One week later, Player came from seven strokes back in the final round to win the Tournament of Champions. In gusty winds at the 1998 Masters, he became the oldest golfer ever to make to the cut, breaking the 25-year-old record set by Sam Snead.
Being South African, Player never played in the Ryder Cup in which American and European golfers compete against each other, and he was no longer an eligible player when the Presidents Cup was established to give international players the opportunity to compete in a similar event. However, he was non-playing captain of the International Team for the Presidents Cup in 2003, which was held on a course he designed, The Links at Fancourt in George, South Africa. After 2003 ended in a tie, he was reappointed as captain for the 2005 Presidents Cup, and his team lost to the Americans 15.5 to 18.5.
In 1966, Gary Player was voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974 and "Gary Player - A Global Journey" exhibition launched by the Hall of Fame as of March, 2006.