Golf icon Gary Player delivered a strong message of hope as he celebrates his 79th birthday tomorrow with enthusiasm and energy befitting someone decades to his junior.
Recognised as a global humanitarian for his charity work, the Grand Slam champion is celebrating his birthday in China as part of his global tour with the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) series.
The GPI series, staged by Black Knight International, travels to the USA, Europe, China, South Africa, and Abu Dhabi in order to raise funds for The Player Foundation and its many charity beneficiaries around the world. Since 1983, The Player Foundation has raised nearly $60 million to aid underprivileged children. The event in China will be played at the Shanghai Links Golf Club from 3-4 November to support the Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation in providing meals for children in the rural areas of the country.
As his birthday is spent in preparation of the Chinese leg of the widely successful charity series, South Africa's most successful sportsman has often been called the most positive man in golf for his optimistic and cheerful views on life, which translated well to the golf course with Player accumulating 165 worldwide victories.
Following his many achievements on the golf course, Player has vowed to use his success in order to make an impact.
"What we have done across the world with The Player Foundation has truly been one of my greatest accomplishments," said Player. "Over the past 31 years, it is incredibly rewarding to give hope and create a brighter future for children in need."
"It has been a difficult time for us as a country, but we've faced many challenges before and our success has always been the unity this creates amongst ordinary South Africans who remain determined to make this country the miracle it is," an emotional Player said from China.
Player's passion for his country once again shined through as he spoke of his greatest wish at this time.
"I've lived through so many changes in South Africa, from the breaking down of Apartheid to the new democracy led by our greatest leader, Nelson Mandela. And through it all, I've seen how resilient South Africans are," said Player. "My own career was built around what South Africa made me as a person. I had no more exceptional talent than the next man, but growing up in South Africa taught me how to work hard and go after your dreams and believe in yourself. Now is the time to keep that miracle alive and keep working to make this country great."
After asking Player what he is most looking forward at the age of 79, his response was simply, "Life. It is a beautiful thing. I'm anticipating another fantastic year and have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon."