AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Of the five golfers to win the career Grand Slam, Gary Player is the only non-American among the group. But the 79-year-old South African hopes that will change this weekend as Rory McIlroy attempts to make it a sixsome.
"It would be just the most wonderful thing," Player said Tuesday outside the Augusta National clubhouse. "Not only for the Grand Slam, but for golf in general."
When Player finished off the career Grand Slam by winning the 1965 U.S. Open he was only 29. At the time, he thought no one else would accomplish the feat so quickly. "And then Jack did it at 26 and then Tiger at 24," Player said. "And now I really think Rory can do it at 25."
Player's reasoning for why he's rooting on Rory is the message it would send. "Rory takes such good care of himself," Player said. "He was raised well by his parents. He's the type of person that you want representing this sport."
There's also the theater of the moment. Recalling that Augusta National was the site of McIlroy's most ignominious in golf -- his collapse while holding the least in the final round of the 2011 Masters -- Player noted with a wry smile how fitting it would be for McIlroy to vindicate himself here.
"He made a mess that day, but think about it. It's probably the best think that happened to him," Player said. "He had to learn from adversity. He had to get knocked down to really be able to rise the way he has. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that."