Player delights Tshabalala 66 times
The 77-year-old Gary Player, one of the greatest players in the history of golf, turned the clock of time back as he carded 66 on an absorbing first day of the Gary Player Invitational charity tournament, presented by Coca-Cola, at Zimbali Country Club on Saturday.
As Player worked his way through the later holes on the back nine he was cheered along by his dear friend Vincent Tshabalala, who roared his delight as the 'The Black Knight'
delivered a masterclass. There were times when Tshabalala's applause was not lost on Player and on occasionally he roared his appreciation by acknowledging in Xhosa.
“I’m thrilled to have broken my age by 11 shots,” said Player afterwards.
Player's offerings was not enough on the day to stop a championship charge by PGA Tour campaigner Tim Clark who also produced a 66, to steer his team that included Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, Coca-Cola executives Alex Maditsi and Doug Jackson go five points clear at the end of the day.
“It’s always nice to finish strong. It makes the evening that much better,” said Clark. His business partner Jackson paid tribute to his great golf. “Tim was incredibly solid, and that made the difference for us.”
Roger Chapman's team that includes Shaun Pollock, Chuck Colton and Joe Ralebepa were in second place on 85 points.
This quartet was not short on support as the entire Pollock family trailed the team from start to finish and 'Polly' really turned it on with blistering drives off the tee. His short game also thrived, none more so than on the 17th when he sunk a 21-metre chip from the slopping edge of a bunker.
“Shaun played such great golf out there it was hard knowing who the pro in the team was,” Chapman said of his scratch handicap teammate.
“I loved it,” said Pollock, who was on the winning team here last year. “We’ve got a job trying to catch the leaders, but we might just have to find Clark and Dalglish at tonight’s (Saturday) function and make sure something happens to them before tomorrow (Sunday).”
Player led his team of Jack Wagner, Carlos Pires Oliviera Dias and Andre Pires Oliviera Dias to a joint third place with 83 points, after a strong finish by Carly Booth, Brian McFadden, Greg Whittaker and Steve Phytides.
The round was a personal highlight for McFadden who came to light with magnificent birdie on the 17th and the beautiful, sexy Booth celebrated the feat with an excited embrace.
“I think that’s my first birdie in about nine years,” said the former Westlife star, who earlier said his golf is so bad that his charity role this weekend is to donate golf balls to the local economy.
Next on 76 points was Ian Woosnam, Angie Everhart, Christian Karg and Brad Caufield.
The Welshman 'Woosie', the 1991 Masters winner, interrupted his game on his way to the 18th to assist a lady official whose caddie car had stalled on the cart path.
Actress Everhart also showed a touch of class. “We had a great start, a bit of a lull in the middle and a good finish,” said Everhart, who was delighted to have contributed four birdies of her own and celebrated with a cartwheel across the 17th green. “But I must say, it was pretty intimidating standing on the tee next to a legend like Ian Woosnam.”
Bringing up the rear on 75 points were Sam Torrance, Ian Wright, Gideon du Plessis and Nick Jonsson.
Torrance, a former Ryder Cup captain, rallied his charges and football legend Wright was full of praise for him afterwards.
"Playing with Sam Torrance was very calming man he encourages me all the time," said Wright. "My game was below average today but the guys in the group were scoring well."
Torrance said he was pleased his charges. “We had a great time,” said Torrance. “The team was dead easy to lead. They just do whatever I tell them. I wish my wife was the same.”