Gary Player’s wife Vivienne dies following battle with pancreatic cancer

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The wife of golfer Gary Player, Vivienne has died following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Gary and Vivienne Player were married for 64 years after the pair met as teenagers, and Gary asked her to marry him at the age of 15. The couple had six children together, as well as 22 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 

Gary enjoyed a glittering golf career, securing nine major championships, 24 PGA Tour titles, and 60 Sunshine Tour events. The 85-year-old often put his career successes down to his wife after Vivienne acted as both a tutor and a nanny for their six children, as he travelled throughout his career.

Her husband was not her only connection to the game of golf, as her brother Bobby Verway was also a PGA Tour winner, whilst Vivienne herself also played the game once recording two hole-in-ones in round at a tournament in her native South Africa.

As well as their work on the golf course, the couple were also known for their hard work off it after raising over £45million for underprivileged children’s education thanks to the South Africans’ charity work with the Player Foundation and the Gary Player Invitational Series tournaments.

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In a statement on social media earlier this year, Gary spoke of the love he had for his wife on their 64th wedding anniversary describing her as his ‘rock’.

Player tweeted: “Today is our 64th wedding anniversary. Vivienne has been my rock and helped me achieve success beyond my wildest dreams. It’s been a difficult year seeing her battle cancer but it’s made me realize what a special life we’ve shared. A wife like no other. I love you, Viv,”.

Since the news of her passing, tributes from the world of golf poured in to pay their respects, with messages on social media from the likes of Thomas Bjorn, Marc Immelman and the Professional Golfers’ Association of South Africa.

Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup winning captain, Bjorn tweeted: “What sad news… An incredible woman. All my thoughts are with @garyplayer and the family at this time.”

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South African golf coach and broadcaster, Immelman also paid his respects, tweeting: “Waking up to some sad news with the passing of Mrs. Player. In many ways she has always been the rock in the Player family and she will surely be missed. May God Almighty bless you and the family during this time of mourning @garyplayer. Much love always.”

The Professional Golfers’ Association of the Players’ native South Africa also paid their own personal tribute to Vivenne, via their Twitter channel as they tweeted: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Vivienne Player after a long battle with cancer.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to PGA Honorary Life member,Gary Player. Our thoughts are with the whole Player family and friends during this time. RIP.”

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