On April 10, 1961, Gary Player, a 25-year-old South African, beats defending champion Arnold Palmer and amateur Charles Coe by a stroke to become the first international champion at the Masters. Palmer double-bogeys the 18th hole at Augusta National to give Player the win.
As part of golf's "Big Three" with Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Player often was lost in the shuffle. But he was one of the sport's greatest, winning nine major championships. He was revered in his home country, where he was named "Sportsman of the Century" in 2000.
Because of rain, the final round was postponed until Monday. Player, called the "bold, little man in black" by the media, finished with a 74 an hour ahead of Palmer. On the final hole, Palmer's third shot from a sand trap rolled down a bank. Then his fourth shot landed 15 feet short of the cup, and he two-putted for a double-bogey six, giving the title to Player.
Said Player, who earned $20,000 for the victory: "Frankly...I am very proud of myself."
Player wasn't done winning majors. In addition to winning the British Open in 1959, he won that title two more times (1968, 1974), as well as the Masters twice more (1974, 1978), the PGA Championship twice (1962, 1972) and the 1965 U.S. Open.
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