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Last Updated: Friday, 30 March 2007, 06:09 GMT 07:09 UK
Player eyes penultimate Masters
By Rob Hodgetts

Gary Player
Player will break Arnold Palmer's Masters record in 2008

Gary Player admits he is likely to be playing in his penultimate Masters at Augusta this year.

The 71-year-old South African legend will equal Arnold Palmer's record of 50 Masters appearances next week.

And the sprightly three-time winner said he will be back for one more tournament in 2008.

"I wouldn't say my motivation is to beat Arnold," he told BBC Sport. "I've made a lot of sacrifices to keep myself in shape so I might go one more year."

Player, a nine-time major winner and one of only five men to win golf's Grand Slam of all four majors, was part of the "big three" with Americans Palmer and Jack Nicklaus from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.

Palmer played his last Masters in 2004, aged 74, while Nicklaus bowed out at the age of 65 in 2005 after 45 Augusta appearances.

I walk around those 18 holes like a young buck

Gary Player

Masters champions receive a lifetime exemption at Augusta but in recent times club officials have discreetly asked the more ageing players to decline their invitations.

Player last made the Masters cut in 1998, aged 62, and was the oldest competitor to have made it to the weekend before he was usurped by 63-year-old Tommy Aaron, the 1973 champion, in 2000.

But Player, a Champions Tour regular who has always prided himself on his physical fitness, insists he is far from out-staying his welcome at Augusta.

"Realistically, there's very little chance of me making the cut - Augusta is too long now - but the people are so enthusiastic and so warm. I get a lot of standing ovations," said Player, who also won three Opens, two USPGAs and the US Open.

"My main drive is to get a message through to young people about longevity and about the virtues of not smoking, not drinking excessively and exercising and being productive.

"It's a great thing if I can show people, aged 71, that you're never too old if you look after yourself.

"I still go to the gym and do 100 sit-ups a day, and not many people of my age can walk nine holes, but I walk around those 18 holes like a young buck."

The 71st Masters takes place at Augusta National, Georgia, from 5-8 April.

  • Read and listen to more of the interview with Gary Player on the BBC Sport website in the build-up to next week's Masters.



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