RENOWNED fitness fanatic Gary Player turns 81 in November but in a still very busy life the Golf Hall of Famer knows that many heights remain to be scaled.
The South African nine time major winner came face to face with one of them, champion NBA basketballer Yao Ming, at the recent World Celebrity Pro-Am at Mission Hills in China.
The unlikely pair were teamed up in the pro-am, probably because organisers realised they were both [cough] giants in their respective sports.
The 36 year old now retired Yao Ming was the tallest player in the NBA in his time, measuring a whopping 2.29 m (7 ft 6 in).
Player responds with a measly 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in), but he probably could still match the basketballer in other areas – such as his continuing torturous fitness regime.
In an interview just last week Player boasted: “… I did 1,300 sit-ups and crunches last night, and I put a hundred-pound weight on my chest for the last 200. And then I did the treadmill at max, and I pushed 400 pounds with my legs. So you see, this business of getting old is purely a number. It’s about the way you look after yourself.”
But while we poke a bit of gentle fun at the great golfer, we should also acknowledge his other ambitions:
“I raise money for people who are underprivileged. We’ve raised $60 million in Japan, China, Africa, America, London, Abu Dhabi. Now, we may be going into India. I want to get to $100 million before I hang it up.”
About the World Celebrity Pro-Am
The fourth edition of the World Celebrity Pro-Am in 2016 saw stars from sport and entertainment paired with golfing greats for a weekend of golf and glamour at the Mission Hills Haikou resort on the tropical island of Hainan in China.
Nine elite golfers competed over two rounds of individual stableford for a prize purse of US$ 1 million – with US$ 250,000 going to the winner. The golfers were also playing alongside their celebrity partners for the team title on the Mission Hills Blackstone Course.
A biennial event, the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am was established in 2010 as Asia’s first and only pro-celebrity golf tournament. This sporting and entertainment extravaganza – which reaches more than 26 television channels in Greater China and over 200 countries worldwide – aims to help grow the game of golf in China whilst also promoting Hainan Island as a tourist destination and supporting local charities. Proceeds are being donated to The Nature Conservancy and the Hainan United Youth Association.
Photograph by Power Sport Images for Mission Hills