Player chosen as a third Masters honorary starter

Jack Nicklaus, of the US, Gary Player of South Africa and Arnold Palmer of the US walk down the fairway during the par 3 contest prior to the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.

Jack Nicklaus, of the US, Gary Player of South Africa and Arnold Palmer of the US walk down the fairway during the par 3 contest prior to the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.

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Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus will have company as honorary starters at the Masters in 2012.

Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters, announced that three-time champion Gary Player will join Palmer and Nicklaus on the first tee.

“For decades, Gary Player has been the international ambassador for the game of golf,” said Payne. “His significant accomplishments at the Masters, spread over an astounding 52 appearances, have helped form many lasting memories for fans of golf around the world. As an Honorary Starter, his legacy will be rightfully celebrated alongside two of the Tournament’s other all-time greats, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.”

Player was the Masters first international champion, winning in 1961, 1974 and 1978. He also finished in the top 10 12 times.

Player played in this first Masters in 1957, appearing in 52 tournaments (the most all-time) until announcing he would retire from the Masters in 2010.

“I am thrilled to join my friends Jack and Arnold as an honorary starter,” Player said. “Augusta National is a special place that holds many memories for me. When I won my first Green Jacket in 1961, Arnold put it on my back. In 1962, Arnold beat me in an 18-hole playoff to win his second in three years. The year after my second win in 1974, Jack became the second man at the time to ever win four Masters. I was there to put the Green Jacket on both of them. Moments like those are so special and to be able to experience those memories with friends and competitors is something I will never forget.”

The 2012 Masters is scheduled for April 2-8.

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