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Sunrise and Sunset at the Masters

Over the first two days of the Masters, there were two remarkable achievements by two players. One of who is at the sunset of his career. The other who is awakening to a blazing sunrise.

Playing in his 52nd and final Masters, which is in of itself, extraordinary, ageless Gary Player shot an incredible, 78 in his first round on Thursday. Gary Player is 73 years old (an interesting coincidence because this is the 73rd. playing of the Masters). Hitting woods into par 4’s that the young players were approaching with wedges and playing with the same drive and tenacity that has defined his brilliant career, Player was simply, marvelous.

His resume reads like no other. Player has won 163 tournaments around the world in his 54 years as a professional golfer. He was the first truly “global” golfer and has logged more travel hours than any other player in history. The “Black Knight” was also the first player to recognize the importance of diet, fitness and training. He can still do 500 push-ups in a single session, and looks not a day older than 50.

Player was the first non-American player to win all four Major Championships (he recorded that feat earlier than Jack Nicklaus did), and remains only one of five players to accomplish that. Playing in the era of Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, they trio were known as “the Big Three”. Always over-shadowed by the more charismatic Palmer, and the more credentialed, Nicklaus, Player has perhaps, never really received his due, for greatness.

He should receive that recognition, now.

Anthony Kim shot 75 in Thursday’s first round. Although he has yet to play (only one Top Ten finish on the PGA Tour, in 2009) well this year, Kim has maintained that his “game was getting better”. After Thursday, one had to wonder if he really meant that.

Two years ago an immature, Kim would have been turned that 75 into a 78 and been packing his bags on Friday night and been petulant in the process. Anthony Kim has learned a lot in two years. He has listened to the advice of his peers about his behavior, attitude and habits (not many 23 year olds have the maturity to do that) and has looked into the mirror rather than looking for excuses.

On Friday, Kim made 11 birdies during his spectacular round of 65 which left him tied for 6th place heading into the weekend. 11 birdies is a record for one round in the 73 year history of golf’s best Major Championship.

Gary Player is a firm believer in the Chinese proverb, that “all things must pass”. As the last lingering rays of sunlight faded across the magnolia trees and the Augusta faithful bid farewell, to one of the games’ icons, we were promised a new day, this morning. Perhaps this is the dawn, that will pass it’s sunrise, to Anthony Kim.