Nine-time major champion Gary Player with the help of Sunshine Tour professionals, sports stars, business leaders and friends raised over R3 million for charity at the Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational on Sunday.
The 36-hole event was held at Lost City Golf Course in Sun City, with all proceeds going to the Blair Atholl Pre-Primary School.
Player, who turned 87 in early November, took part of his charity event tournament as they raised over R3 million to the kids at Blair Atholl, a school opened on the farm by the Players in 1990.
The school is situated in the Lanseria area, north-west of Johannesburg, near the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate – home of this year’s Investec South African Open.
The pre-primary school provides quality education to the local farmworkers’ children and has now grown to educate 125 children between the ages of three and six.
During the two-day event in Sun City, sports stars like Victor Matfield, Pat Lambie, Herschelle Gibbs, Mark Williams and Jimmy Tau took part in the inaugural event.
Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational (Supplied)
The tournament was won on a count-out by the team of Sunshine Tour golfer Brooklin Bailey, former Bafana Bafana star Mark Fish and businessmen Anthony Phillips and Ashok Pundit on a total of 187 points.
“It’s been a dream of mine to get trophies handed to me from the greats in the game. It’s just so special to be handed a trophy from one of the greats such as Gary Player,” said Bailey.
“He’s an absolute legend and he’s done so much for golf and through his philanthropy. It was a truly special experience.”
Player held back the tears on Sunday as he thanked all those gathered in what was a successful event as all proceeds went to the school.
It is a journey of golf and giving that Player and Vivienne began, and one he now continues on his own following the passing from his late wife last year.
“I was blessed to hold my wife in my arms when she passed. Some of her last words to me were, ‘Gary, don’t forget those kids at Blair Atholl’,” said Player.
“I had so many wonderful years with Vivienne and I left the table having had a feast. My own life has been an epic journey. All of us will have adversity in our lives, and if you can overcome it with courage, patience and love you will prosper in the end.
“When people ask me, ‘What is your legacy?’, they all think it’s golf. My legacy is not golf. It’s that through golf and through our foundation, we’ve raised over $100 million for underprivileged people. That is my legacy.”
The Sunshine Tour now prepares to host next week’s DP World Tour event, the Joburg Open at Houghton Golf Club.