On This Date in Sports April 10, 1961: Player with a Jacket

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Gary Player from South Africa becomes the first international golfer to win the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta. Player shoots an eight-under-par 270 to beat defending champion Arnold Palmer and amateur Charles Coe by one stroke. The fourth round was delayed one day by rain, as Gary Player held a four-stroke lead. His final round was a rough 74, which was good enough to hold on for the Green Jacket. Gary Player would win two more Green Jackets in 1974 and 1978. 

Gary Player was born on November 1, 1935, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The youngest of three children, Player's father worked in the gold mines. When he began playing, Gary Player took out loans to get a set of golf clubs, declaring that he would be ranked number one in the world one day. Turning professional at 17, Player dominated the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. The paved the way for him to join the European Tour. In 1957, Gary Player made his PGA debut. A year later, he captured his first win at the Kentucky Derby Open. In 1959, Gary Player sipped from the Claret Jug, winning the Open Championship in Murfield.


In 1961, Gary Player was off to a terrific start, winning two PGA events before the first major of the year in Augusta. This included the Sunshine Open two weeks before the Masters. Player had a nice start at Augusta National, shooting a 69, as he shot one stroke behind defending champion Arnold Palmer and Bob Rosburg. Player made a big move with a 68 on Friday and went into the weekend seven-under in a tie with Palmer. Arnold Palmer struggled on Saturday and lost a stroke with a 73, while Gary Player excelled and shot another 69 to sit ten under after 54 holes. 

Rain spoiled the Sunday finish, forcing the Masters to carry over on a Monday. Some golfers were able to get on the course, but their scores were reset for the Monday finish. Gary Player had his worst round of the tournament, shooting two-over par 74. Despite being the leader, his round was finished an hour ahead of Arnold Palmer, who held a one-stroke lead heading into the final hole. However, Palmer found himself in a bunker and ended with a double-bogey to lose the tournament as Gary Player's -8 proved to be the winning score.

Gary Player would win the Masters again in 1974 and 1978. He would win nine overall majors and is the only golfer not born in the US to complete the career Grand Slam.