Former Number 1 golfer in the world, winner of 50 tournaments worldwide. Twice winner of US Master’s (one of golf’s four major torunaments). Represented Europe in the Ryder Cup against America 10 times (1979-2003).
Winning the US Master’s twice, in 1985 and 1993.
Gary Player was always my hero. I liked his approach to golf. He was a fitness fanatic and obsessive about practice – just as I am.
By the time I was about 28 years old, I had basically achieved almost everything that I wanted to. I realized that material things don’t make you happy and that there must be more in this life than just accumulating money in the bank, or cars, or houses, or whatever. You just want more, more, more and are never satisfied. Through a Bible study on the US Tour, I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour, and that made all the difference.
I always used to think “I’m the one in charge, I am the boss. I can do it all myself” – but the older I get, the more I realize that is not the case. Whatever I have can be taken away in a few seconds or a few days, and events can happen where you lose everything you have and more. So I am much more reliant on Jesus now. I trust him much more – that he will provide for me. I just try to live more like him, which isn’t always easy.
Since I became a Christian, I have seen tremendous changes in my life, my marriage and my whole outlook. My priorities have changed. They are now where they should be: God first, family second and then my career. I believe when your priorities are in the right place, everything is managed better.
The Bible is a humongous book. There is so much wisdom and truth in it. It is God’s word – so we ought to read it and learn about him, and be what he wants us to be.
“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). When I first read that, it didn’t make any sense to me. Surely at the age of 28 I could not be born again?
I thought I was a “pretty good Christian”, but I’d never heard this before. A friend of mine explained what it meant in practical terms. I was amazed to realize that the only way to have eternal life is through Jesus Christ – that he died for our sins. And that it is not through worthy deeds or good behaviour that one receives eternal life because we can never live up to God’s standard. We will always fall short.
After understanding that God loved me so much that he sent his only Son to die for my sins, it was natural for me to ask the Lord into my life.
The reason I enter golf tournaments is to win. Once you have won, that’s what you live for. You want to win again. There is nothing like winning. They say nobody remembers second or third – and they are right.
In 1991 the Ryder Cup, Europe vs. USA came down to the last hole of the last match. Eventually I had a putt. If I made it, Europe would retain the Ryder Cup. If I missed, the USA would win it. I missed.
I was obviously disappointed for the team, all my colleagues, the captain, for the whole tour, the continent. I felt that I had let them down. I had missed a putt. On the other hand, I knew I had tried my best and had done everything I could. There are far more important things in life than making a putt or missing a putt.
Again, my relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, put it all in perspective. There has only ever been one perfect man, the Lord Jesus, and we killed him. I only missed a putt.
First of all, I would say don’t take what I am saying. Get yourself a Bible and look into it yourself and find out whether Jesus Christ really lived, whether there is a God or if there is any alternative. I think that many people who do that come to the conclusion that there is a God – there is a creator.
Every day we have to make many decisions, but the most important decision we’ll ever make is who we believe Jesus is. We either accept him or reject him. Jesus himself said that we are either for him or against him. There’s no in between.
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Do faith and sport mix? Which side is God on? Can praying help win a race, get a hole in one or score in a penalty shoot-out? In these pages we interview sporting heroes who have some of the answers.
All the interviews are by Stuart Weir
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