Vivienne Player, wife of Gary Player, dies after cancer battle

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Vivienne Player, wife of Hall of Fame golfer Gary Player, died Wednesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The couple’s 64-year marriage produced six children, 22 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Vivienne was diagnosed with cancer in June of 2020.

“Your whole life has got to be a honeymoon if you want it to be successful,” Gary recently told Golfweek contributor Averee Dovsek on her podcast, Why You Suck at Golf!, in mentioning Vivienne’s cancer battle. “Work at it. Love is the greatest word in the world.”

Gary, now 85, first proposed to Vivienne when he was 15 years old, and they married in 1957 in their native South Africa. Gary’s globe-trotting career went on to produce nine major championship titles among his 167 international victories, with 24 PGA Tour wins. Gary has spoke often about how his family sometimes traveled with children, and how Vivienne ran the family while he was away.

International team captain Gary Player talks with his wife, Viviene, as they watch foursomes matches at the 2005 Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

“She is the best wife that any man could ever wish for,” he told Tennis World in 2020 after her diagnosis. “You know, no other woman would have stayed with me. I spent more time on airplanes than anyone in this planet. And she stayed home with the kids.”

Gary and Vivienne founded the Player Foundation and the Gary Player Invitational series tournaments, which has raised tens of millions of dollars to provide educational opportunities for underprivileged children.

“With the travel my profession and wins have afforded my wife Vivienne and I, we have seen the poverty and enormous needs around the world,” Gary said on the foundation website. “We have gained great satisfaction from giving something back to the world in moments of success.”

Vivienne played golf and once recorded two holes-in-one in one round in Johannesburg.

Tributes poured in on social media, including the following.

Tony Jacklin

Louis Oosthuizen

Thomas Bjorn

The Open

South African golf

Sunshine Tour