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Player pulls out of Open Qualification

Gary Player attempt to compete in a record 47th consecutive Open Championship has ended just before it was scheduled to start because he has injured rib muscles. Player, 66, had wanted desperately to return to Muirfield for next week’s Open because it was there, at the home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, in 1959, that he won his first Open and first major championship.

“I have been working especially hard and practising vigorously for many weeks with the goal of keeping my streak alive,” Player said. “I pushed myself too hard and ignored the early signs that something was wrong. I obviously aggravated what I thought was only a strain that would go away with exercise and practice.”

Player’s run of consecutive Open appearances began at Hoylake in 1956 and ended at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s last year when his tournament exemption expired. Player may also have to miss the Senior British Open at Royal County Down in two weeks. He was to have attempted to qualify for the 131st Open at Gullane No 1 course near Muirfield tomorrow and on Monday and would have been assured of a large gallery. He is the only player to have won the Open in three different decades — 1959 at Muirfield, 1968 at Carnoustie and 1974 at Lytham. “I was so looking forward to putting myself to the test of qualifying,” Player said.

The South African, the only one of the Big Three of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and himself, who would have been competing at the Open this year, can have another attempt next year when the tournament moves to Royal St George’s, Sandwich, in Kent. “Not to compete at the Open is heartbreaking,” Player said.

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