The Masters Tournament® has a long-lived legacy as one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments. Starting back in 1934 and progressing on today, Augusta National® has seen many champions walk onto its course.
These Green Jacket Champions are nothing short of legendary, and as we count down to The Masters® 2019 we will uncover the story behind them all.
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Considered by many to be the first "modern" international golfer, Gary Player has seen almost everything imaginable during his over half-a-century long career. Nicknamed "The Black Knight" because of his superstition about always donning black while going through 18 holes, Player is one of the most decorated golfers in the sports' long history. The trio of Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus is considered in history to be the "Big Three" of golf in the 1960's. Player also happens to be one of the most successful athletes to ever come out of his home country of South Africa.
Player maintained an impressive knack of winning for a majority of his career, including a run of 27 consecutive years with a tournament victory. Throughout his entire tenure on the green, Player won 163 total tournaments worldwide -- an almost unimaginable feat. He won a total of nine major championships, including three Green Jackets and two victories each at The Open and the PGA Championship.
At the age of 29, Player became the third player in history to complete the career Grand Slam, and the only non-American to ever accomplish the feat.
Player currently holds the record for the most times competing in The Masters Golf Tournament® at 52.
The Masters®, 1978
Don't call it a comeback. While the journey towards a Green Jacket is a culmination of four rounds of hard work mixed with a little bit of luck, Player proved in 1978 that one perfect round of golf can provide an alternative route to success at Augusta National®. Entering the final round on Sunday, the South African sat in 10th place and trailed seven strokes behind the leader, Hubert Green. In one of the greatest rounds in the history of The Masters®, Player charged up the leader board by shooting an immaculate 64, including nine birdies, and usurped Green by finishing the tournament 11-under par.
The victory was Players' third and final Green Jacket, 17 years removed from his first win at The Masters® in 1961. It was also the final major championship of his illustrious career. As for the legacy left in his homeland, Player was the second South African ever to win multiple majors and was voted the "Sportsman of the Century" in his home country in 2000.
At 42, Player became the oldest Green Jacket winner until a 46-year old Jack Nicklaus took that title from him in 1986.
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