BALITO, South Africa -- Tim Clark credits the Gary Player Invitational, presented by Coca-Cola, for being the start of his professional success.
So it was only right that in his first appearance in a South African tournament in two years, Clark should lead his team to glory in this charity tournament.
At the end of an event which raised a record of just over R4 million for charity this year, Clark and his team of Scottish football legend Kenny Dalglish and businessmen Alex Maditsi and Doug Jackson celebrated a seven-point victory at Zimbali Country Club on Sunday.
And they did so in style, with Jackson holing a putt from off the green on the last for a birdie at the end of a final round that produced a few moments of brilliance from the amateurs in the field.
"I remember being invited to this tournament for the first time in 2000. I was just a rookie professional then, and to have had Gary Player even think of inviting me was a big deal. It meant a lot to me. I always feel like that was the start of my career," said Clark, whose team finished on a 36-hole total of 175 points.
Second place went to the team of Ladies European Tour professional Carly Booth, Irish pop star Brian McFadden and businessmen Greg Whittaker and Steve Phytides on a total of 168 points.
The final day brought with it tough conditions as a strong wind challenged the field of professionals, celebrities and businessmen. But it couldn't hamper a few individual highlights.
McFadden was thrilled to sign off his debut in this tournament with a second place. "I had the time of my life and I can't wait for next year," said the former Westlife star. "But I realized this week I'm not a professional athlete. I think I've got more of a physique for pro darts."
Phytides, who took time away from his successful logistics business to help contribute to the charitable cause this week, was one of the standout performers in his team. "It was a privilege to be part of this, and I have to thank Mr Player for giving me that opportunity. It's been the highlight of my own golfing career."
The team of double senior Major champion Roger Chapman, South African cricket legend Shaun Pollock and businessmen Chuck Colton and Joe Ralebepa struggled to hold onto their second place overnight and finished third overall on 165 points.
"We wanted to do our best to chase down the leaders, but we didn't make too many big points on the final day. But it was still great fun to be a part of such a good cause," said Pollock, who was on the winning team here last year.
Tournament host Gary Player and his team of actor Jack Wagner and businessmen Carlos Pires Oliveira Dias and Andre Pires Oliveira Dias finished on 163 points. "The last two holes really hurt us," said the ever-competitive Player. It was echoed by Wagner, a scratch handicap who as a teenager could choose between a golf and drama scholarship and opted for the latter. "I think we all had our moments of brilliance and then our moments of sitting in the cart and keeping quiet."
They were followed by Ian Woosnam, actress Angie Everhart, Christian Karg and Brad Caufield on 159 points. Karg produced a magnificent shot on the par-four 18th, hitting his five-iron approach to within one foot and holing the putt for birdie. "That was a good four pointer for me, and it was exactly what we needed to get past Team Torrance, which was our goal at the beginning of the day," he said.
Sam Torrance, Ian Wright, Gideon du Plessis and Nick Jonsson took sixth place on 150 points, with Du Plessis loving every second of being in the presence of a former Ryder Cup captain for two days. "It was such a memorable experience. Sam Torrance is a fantastic golfer, but an even better storyteller. But I'm so honoured to have been part of this, and thank Gar
y for what he's done in this tournament, and for South Africa as a whole," he said.
Gary Player Invitational 2012 Series:
United States - Georgia
Dates: 9 April 2012
Champions Retreat, Augusta
United Kingdom - England
Dates: 23 July 2012
Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey
China - Shanghai
Dates: 29 - 30 October 2012
South Africa - KwaZulu-Natal
Dates: 22 - 25 November 2012
Zimbali Country Club
About The Player Foundation
The Player Foundation was established in 1983 by Marc Player. What began as an effort to provide education, nutrition, medical care and athletic activities, for a small community of disadvantaged children living on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa has now blossomed into an organization that circles the globe bringing aid to underprivileged children and impoverished communities.
The Foundation is funded primarily by four Gary Player Invitational events presented through Black Knight International. Pairing celebrities and professional golfers from the PGA and Champions Tours with businessmen and international sports figures, the annual tournaments are staged in the United States, China, Europe and South Africa. The proceeds of these tournaments and other special events provide funding for an ever- expanding number of institutions around the world, including the Blair Atholl Schools in South Africa, the Pleasant City Elementary School in Palm Beach, the Wildlands Conservation Trust in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and AIDS infected children in the Yunnan Province of China. Since its establishment, The Player Foundation has donated over $50 million dollars to the support of children's charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.
Gary Player, acknowledged as a world class humanitarian, believes that the strength of our future depends upon the abilities of our children. "I have found that the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others does not thrust itself upon us," Player says, "But we do not need to look hard for it either. When you spot the chance to give back to the world, act on it. You will have made life better, for others, and for yourself."
The Gary Player Foundation is a non-profit 501 C (3) organization managed by Black Knight International in Palm Beach, Florida.
For further information on The Player Foundation, Gary Player, or Black Knight International, visit www.garyplayer.com or contact Debbie Longenecker at email@example.com telephone +1-864-477-2720.
About The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, the world's most valuable brand, the company's portfolio features 15 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, Vitamin Water, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, it is the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy its beverages at a rate of 1.8 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, the company is focused on initiatives that reduce its environmental footprint and which support active, healthy living; as well as creating a safe, inclusive work environment for its associates; and enhancing the economic development of the communities where it operates. Together with its bottling partners, the company ranks among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700 000 system associates. For more information, visit www.thecoca-colacompany.com, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo or visit our blog at www.coca-colablog.com.
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