In the great and unusual mind of Gary Player, he's not out of this 72nd Masters yet. In the leader board of his mind, he's delighted to see a countryman, Trevor Immelman of South Africa, leading the tournament after two rounds. "Good playing, mon," Player would say to him, as only Player can.
Player knows, too, that there are some casualties after two rounds at the Masters. There always are, and this year was his 51st time playing in the thing. Ernie Els missed the cut by a shot, at 4 over par. So did Fred Couples, with the same score, which means Freddie and the The Black Knight still share the record for most consecutive cuts made in the Masters at 23. At the bottom of the list are some more wrenching scores. His homeboys from the Champions Locker Room way down south: Larry Mize, 77-81; Fuzzy Zoeller, 81-79. "You must lay off the bacons, the white breads, the confections," Player says to anyone who will listen, but the Fuzz is not getting the message. "Fat makes you fat."
Player's own condition, in the tournament and on his doctor's scale, is far superior. After two rounds, he was 1 over par, trailing Trevor by nine and Tiger by 2 but not hopelessly out of it. You may have heard otherwise, but those accounts are in error. Player says that Augusta National is a par-80 for him. He shot rounds of 83 and 78 for 161, which for him adds up to 1 over par, not 17 over and dead last, like it looked on your Saturday morning scroll through the scores. You must have a positive mind in this game. Player plans to come back to the Masters next year, at age 73. He says he'll be stronger then.
On Friday night, there was a party in the elegant home that Player rented for the week. It was a celebration of Gary. Guests were given a Black Knight gift bag with a Black Knight visor, among other things. Some sun is good, but there are many harmful rays, too, so take protection.
At 10 p.m., Player left his many guests and friends. He said, "I'm pooped, I'm exhausted and I am going to bed."
You could hardly blame the man, what with his early morning Saturday tee time. (Photo: John Biever/SI)