Golf News for Monday, November 28, 2016 | Charity

Sporting greats grateful for chance to support Gary Player Invitational

As some of the world's great golfers and sportsmen arrived at the Lost City Golf Club for this weekend's Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, there was a feeling of gratitude amongst them for being given the opportunity to be part of the spirit of Golf and Giving that is the hallmark of this event.

"To have the opportunity to help Mr Player is a fantastic feeling," said former England and Manchester United football star Andy Cole as he makes his debut in this tournament.

"What a privilege to be here," added former Springbok captain John Smit, who is making his debut in the South African leg of this global charity series.

Smit understands better than most what former South African President Nelson Mandela meant when he said sport can change the world as he led the Springboks during a momentous era in the country's history, and he said Player's similar vision is equally inspiring.

"Much like Nelson Mandela, when Gary Player asks you to help you don't say no. People thank you for being here but we are the ones who are grateful to be here to be able to help those who don't have as much as we do."

Michael Campbell, winner of the 2005 US Open, was equally appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to The Player Foundation's goal of raising $100 million for charity, including this week's two South African beneficiaries in Wings and Wishes and Wildlands.

"Gary has given us so much in terms of the game of golf. He's been such a great ambassador for the game, so when he invited me to this tournament I felt it was an opportunity to give him something in return.

"I have this philosophy that you're born with two hands - one to receive and one to give back. This is the opportunity for us to give back, and to children who need it. I feel very honoured to be able to do that."

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke echoed these sentiments and said he stood in awe of what the global Gary Player Invitational series has done for charity over the years.

"We're all here to help Gary raise money for underprivileged children and some of the figures I read today are astronomical. He's raised $64 million thus far and wants to get to $100 million by 2025, so if we can go a little way towards helping him get a bit more of that this week, then that's why we're all here."

Player's infectious enthusiasm for people and contributing to society made such an impact on South African LPGA Tour star Paula Reto while she was at the Olympic Games with the Grand Slam champion that it's become a theme for her own career.

"This is really exciting for me. I met Gary Player for the first time at the Olympics, and just to see how much he gives back has inspired me to want to do the same."

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter and Instagram - #GOLFandGIVING.

For more information please contact:

Bo Wood - Black Knight International
+ 1 864 477 2720

Meagan Fester - Black Knight International
+27 21 448 7777

Michael Vlismas - Michael Vlismas Media
+27 72 242 8399

Established in 1983 by Marc Player, Black Knight International is a global holding company for The Player Group and the constantly expanding family of Gary Player® brands. With a powerful presence in North and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Black Knight is a multicultural and multilingual company offering branded services for the leisure and real estate industries. This rapidly growing firm is diverse and infused with the same tenaciousness and drive as Gary Player, world renowned iconic golfer. The holding company divisions include: Gary Player Design, Player Real Estate, Black Knight Enterprises, Black Knight Solutions, Black Knight Capital, Gary Player Academies, and 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 six 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 Masizame in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, and AIDS infected children in Baoshan, a drug-infested city located on the China-Burma border. Since its establishment, The Player Foundation has donated more than $60 million 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 Player Foundation is a non-profit 501 C (3) organization managed by Black Knight International in Palm Beach, Florida.