The opening ceremony at Augusta National is a tradition that has carried on with the upmost respect. In a way to honor past champions (and the biggest names in golf), the Masters has had Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer hit the opening tee-shots. While Arnold Palmer may not be with us anymore, his colleagues and good friends will still be there, holding tight to this tradition.
Gary Player, one of the Big Three, has always taken pride in his athleticism, becoming a pioneer for fitness in golf. He was lifting weights before the terms strength training and core workouts were even a thing. He posed nude in Sports Illustrated’s Body Issue at age 77, showing what persistence can do to an aging body.
Now well into his 80’s, he’s still pumping iron and doing push ups to prepare for the famous tee-shot. In preparation, Player recalls last years drive, calling out his friend Jack Nicklaus.
— Gary Player (@garyplayer) March 23, 2017
He posted this image of himself looking on as his drive blasts past Nicklaus’s and Nicklaus in the background looking on in awe. He captioned the photo, “Chuffed when you know keeping in shape just helped you drive by your friend’s ball. See you in two weeks.” In case you need to brush up on your British slang, chuffed means “very pleased”. With the Masters right around the corner, Player is giving Nicklaus some time to shape up before they’re back on the biggest stage in golf.
Player has never shied away from boasting about his fitness. In 2014, Player said he “did an extra 200 sit-ups to make sure I outdrive him.” Him being Nicklaus. Nicklaus may be younger than Player, but Player is in much better shape. It’s fun to watch these two legends poke fun at each other (OK, it’s mostly Player who’s poking fun) but the real fun will be watching them tee-off this year.