Shape of things to come

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:19 AM ET

It's an argument that can't be won or lost but is hashed over daily in clubhouses around the world:

Who are the 10 best golfers of all time?

Obviously, there's no definitive answer yet a handful of fairway legends belong on any knowledgeable golfer's list.

Sun sports writer Dan Toth asked Calgary's Stephen Ames, who has played professionally around the world, to offer up his all-time greats.

The native of Trinidad and Tobago, who gained his Canadian citizenship a year ago, has been fortunate enough to tee it up with a couple of the golf gods who earned a place on his honour roll.

Who Ames selected -- and why -- has been revealed in this 10-part series, which concludes today. In no particular order, here are the golfers Ames most admires:

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#1 JACK NICKLAUS

#2 BOBBY JONES

#3 BEN HOGAN

#4 BYRON NELSON

#5 WALTER HAGEN

#6 TIGER WOODS

#7 NICK FALDO

#8 TOM WATSON

#9 ARNOLD PALMER

#10 GARY PLAYER

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NO. 10

GARY PLAYER

BORN -- Nov. 1, 1935, Johannesburg, S.A.

NICKNAME -- Black Knight.

MAJORS -- Masters (1961, 74, 78) British Open (1959, 68, 74); PGA (1962, 72); U.S. Open (1965).

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A fitness fanatic, Gary Player claims to have travelled farther -- 14 million miles, by his own estimate -- than any athlete in history.

And the two, according to Calgary PGA Tour star Stephen Ames, go hand in hand.

"That's why he was always in such good shape -- he had to be," says Ames.

"It's amazing to see a guy that age still as fit as he is. And he really was a true world player."

Player's fitness regime has been adopted by almost all tour professionals today, although most are just trying to keep pace with the phenomenally fit Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh.

Player won nine majors, including the career Grand Slam, while claiming more than 160 tournaments around the world, including 21 PGA Tour events.

He was also the only golfer of the 20th century to win the British Open in three different decades.

His 1978 Masters win was spurred by a seven-shot comeback in the final round.

Twenty years later, he became the oldest golfer to make the cut at the same event, breaking a record set by Sam Snead 25 years earlier.

On the course, Player's bunker prowess became his trademark.

Ames says bunker shots are much easier than the average golfer realizes, although a fear of even practising the shot makes weekend duffers hopelessly inept in the sand.

"Because they don't practise it and they're afraid of it," Ames claims.

"You're going to be afraid of something if you don't practise, aren't you?

"If I put you in a race car, you'll be afraid of it.

"You're accustomed to driving 60 miles an hour, then you're suddenly forced to drive 200 miles an hour.

"There's a difference there."


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