The man who put South Africa on the golfing map landed in São Paulo on a mission to do the same for the sport in Brazil.
As part of its sponsorship of this week's Brasil Classic tournament (April 4-7), global golf sponsor HSBC has flown in international golf legend Gary Player to help the country's best young amateur prepare for the event with a 48 hour masterclass in golfing excellence.
As the countdown continues to golf's return to the Olympic Games at Rio 2016, the nine time Major winner gave São Paulo-born Rafael Becker a putting lesson on the roof of the city's tallest building, Centenario Plaza - a perfect birthday present for the former Brazilian No 1 junior who turns 22 today.
Player, a finalist for the 2016 Rio Olympic golf course design bid, hopes to lend the young Brazilian advice from his storied career that includes a record setting 59 en route to his 1974 Brazil Open victory.
Becker - the only local amateur taking part in the US $675,000 Brasil Classic presented by HSBC - will spend two days under the wing of the golf icon as part of a comprehensive masterclass covering everything from mental preparation to diet and fitness plus all aspects of the game from tee to green. The pair will also play a full round together at the tournament's Pro-Am event.
Brasil Classic presented by HSBC is a new event on the Web.com Tour, the developmental tour which represents the main opportunity to earn a place on the PGA Tour.
South African Player, who is renowned as the world's most travelled sportsman having clocked up an incredible 25 million km, said: "When I first started to travel the world in the 1950s it was a genuine breakthrough moment for golf in South Africa - now could be the moment for Brazil and if my visit can inspire the next generation of talent that really would be fantastic.
"When HSBC contacted me I was more than happy to answer the call - Rio 2016 is fast approaching and this Brasil Classic event is a great shop window for golf in this part of the world.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that golf will be included in the Olympics once again. The exposure will be a great catalyst for growth and development around the world, especially in new, emerging markets and the growth in Brazil and Latin America will be tremendous.
"The global game of golf is developing at a rapid pace and there's one thing I've learnt in my career - change is the price of survival."
Giles Morgan, HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship & Events, added: "This year marks HSBC's tenth anniversary as a major international sponsor of golf - in that time we have been involved in 30 tournaments and 1,000 golf days and helped thousands of children worldwide get involved in the game of golf.
"As a global banking and financial services organisation, we pride ourselves on opening up a world of opportunities for people and we want to help Brazil maximize the Olympic opportunity - this is why we have sponsored this groundbreaking new event on the Web.com Tour and why we have flown one of the best golfer's in history to São Paulo this week.
"We hope Rafael can go on to great things for Brasil and it would be incredible to see him making an impact at Rio 2016 - with a nine time major winner on his side he's got a great chance."
For further information, please contact:
HSBC Golf Press Office
Steve Bradley 07771 776568 firstname.lastname@example.org
HSBC provides a comprehensive range of financial services to around 89 million customers through four global businesses; Global Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Global Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets and Global Private Banking.
The HSBC Group
HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from around 6,900 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,721bn at 30 September 2012, the HSBC Group is one of the world's largest banking and financial services organisations.
HSBC Golf Sponsorships
HSBC's global commitment to golf encompasses all levels of the game, from grassroots to elite. HSBC is a Patron of The Open Championship and this partnership with The Royal & Ancient creates a centre of gravity in a global golf portfolio that spans HSBC's key markets. In Asia, HSBC has spearheaded the arrival of world-class golf events, with its flagship WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore. The WGC-HSBC Champions is renowned as 'Asia's Major' and was once described by 14-time Major winner and former World Number 1 Tiger Woods as "The crowning jewel of all of Asian golf."
HSBC has been co-title sponsor of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship since 2010 and the event has quickly become one of the biggest events on the European PGA Tour calendar. As golf returns to the Olympic Games for Rio 2016, HSBC is sponsoring the Brasil Classic event on the Web.com Tour in April 2013.
However, underpinning those blue-riband events is a longer-term goal to create a legacy from HSBC's global tournaments through its sponsorship of youth development and grassroots programmes. As well as committing to the professional game, HSBC has a longer-term goal to create the legacy through sponsorship of youth development and grassroots programmes around the world. In China, HSBC supports the HSBC China Junior Golf Program - a sustainable long-term structure and framework upon which the future of Chinese golf is being built. This includes the HSBC-sponsored China National Junior Team, the HSBC China Junior Open and the HSBC National Junior Golf Championship: a year-long series of tournaments designed to give China's elite junior golfers the competitive platform they need to develop their game. In the UK HSBC is sponsor of HSBC Golf Roots - The Golf Foundation's national development programme which promotes the sport in schools, helps youngsters into clubs, and uses golf to promote important life skills such as honesty and respect.
For more details on HSBC's golf activities, visit www.hsbcgolf.com