GARY Player will return to Carnoustie and the scene of the “greatest shot of his career” when he takes his place in the Seniors British Open on July 22-25.
It will be an emotional return for Player, who won The Open Championship at Carnoustie in 1968, claiming his second of three Claret Jugs after previously winning at Muirfield in 1959.
The 74-year-old still rates his majestic three wood approach shot to the 14th hole in his final round 42 years ago as the most memorable shot of his marvellous career.
Player’s ball stopped just inches from the pin to give him a tap in for eagle and set up his eventual two-stroke victory over Jack Nicklaus and New Zealand’s Bob Charles, who had claimed the Claret Jug five years previously.
Player said: “I’ve got great memories of Carnoustie. There were five of us going down the last five holes within one shot of each other and I was playing with Nicklaus.
“I got to the 14th hole, which is known as The Spectacles, because of the two large bunkers in the middle of the fairway, and the wind was blowing and I had a three wood in my hand, and I had to decide whether to go for the green or not because there’s all this heather and junk around over the bigger of the two bunkers. There was only about a five-yard gap and I put the ball eight inches from the hole, which enabled me to go on and beat Nicklaus and the others.
“That has to be the best shot of my life. I hit a shot at the PGA when there were nine of us in contention and a shot to a couple of feet at the 17th at Augusta when leading by one, but nothing like that. That’s a three wood into the wind with such trouble all around.
“My wife was sitting in the stand and she was so nervous. After I played the shot she said she could hardly walk down the stand because her knees were shaking.
“Carnoustie is definitely one of the toughest courses I have played. It will be very tough for a Senior Open. Ben Hogan won the Open there before me, which I watched as a young man, and I always said Ben was the best player I’ve ever seen, so Carnoustie has some very special memories for me.”
The South African golfing superstar is also to be honoured at a special ceremony where he will be presented with the prestigious Asia Pacific Lifetime Achievement Award for golf.
Besides receiving the award, Player will deliver the closing keynote address at the Asia Pacific Golf Summit, which will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, on October 18-20.