Gary Player is a 3-time champion of The Masters. He won it all in 1961, 1974, and 1978. The latter was his final Major Championship win and at the time he became the oldest golfer to ever win The Masters.
Gearing up for another run at Augusta National Golf Club, the 87-year-old South African recently spoke with Riath Al-Samarrai, the Chief sports feature writer at the Daily Mail, about what it means to win The Masters and the other 3 Major Championships in golf.
Inexplicably, Gary Player ranked The Masters 4th of 4 when listing the ‘Greatest Tournaments on the Planet.’ He bafflingly believes golf’s 3 other Major Championships, The US Open, Open Championship, and the PGA Championship, are all more prestigious than winning a green jacket at The Masters.
While reminiscing over a period of life when he came from behind to win 3 weeks in a row, including a win at The Masters, Gary Player said “But, never mind the Masters, the Open is by far the greatest tournament on the planet.”
Excuse me, what?
Gary Player choosing to throw The Masters under the bus as the last-ranked Major Championship is odd, to be sure. But Player offered some insight into his rationale that might make sense to 1 or 2 people out of the millions of fans in golf.
“I rate the Open at one, the US Open two, PGA three and Augusta four. Four marvelous tournaments. It’s the youngest of the majors. The others are steeped in tradition and history and they still have to catch up. Nothing comes to the top without time.”
‘The Youngest’ of 4 majors means it’s 4th of four? That logic might hold water if The Masters was, in fact, young, but it’s older than Gary Player himself.
Gary Player was born on November 1, 1935. The first playing of The Masters was held on March 22, 1934. Gary is old but The Masters is older.
This year will mark the 86th playing of The Masters. Which, to be sure, trails The Open Championship, PGA Championship, and US Open.
But to dock points on The Masters because it’s ‘younger’ but still approaching 100 years old defies logic.
The Masters is arguably harder to win than the other 3 Major Championships in golf, something that Gary Player seems to be forgetting.
Augusta’s field is smaller but it’s harder to receive an invitation to the invitation-only event. Getting into The Masters is a challenge in and of itself and certainly harder than qualifying for golf’s other 3 championships.
Gary Player is, of course, entitled to his opinion. He won 9 Major Championships (3 at Augusta) and has keen insight to what it takes to win each Major title. It’s just possible that Gary Player is romanticizing the age of Majors as he himself enters the winter of life.
There are many subjective ways to determine the ‘best’ Major Championship in golf. One possible metric to use would be TV ratings, aka fan interest.
Year after year, The Masters brings in millions more viewers than the other 3 Majors. We could go through other metrics but what’s the point? The world of golf prefers The Masters.