By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Tuesday morning Gary Player did more than 1,000 sit-ups. Some weight training, too.
After all, fitness was a priority for the 77-year-old South African long before it became popular. Player learned early on as he traveled around the world to ply his trade how important staying healthy was.
"I've been into the villages of Africa, India, and around the world and have met very prominent people, people that have existed on longevity," Player said. "... And I've always asked them the secret. And the conclusion I've came to was, the less you eat, the longer you live.
"Everybody eats like it's their last supper. You got to make sure that you don't overeat and under-exercise."
Player appeared at a press conference on Wednesday to announce initiatives his newest sponsor Humana is undertaking this week at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. One is the Walkit Challenge that encourages fans to count their steps with pedometers at this event as well as at other TOUR stops.
A similar program called the Walkit Pro tracks the number of steps the players take, as well as the calories burned. The information will be available in real-time on the leaderboard, three LED InfoTowers and on the Golf Channel and HumanaChallenge.com.
"You don't have to go to the gym and work out like we do," Player explained. " ... So you've got to walk, you just got to eat less, cut out all the stuff you're eating, don't make it a habit. Don't eat all these fatty foods, eat more vegetables and more fruit and salad. And make sure you walk.
"Get off your butt and do some walking and I'll guarantee you you'll lose 30 pounds in one year."
Player speaks with the passion of a preacher at the pulpit when he discusses physical fitness. That's what he was so pleased to partner with Humana and so proud of the way this tournament allows the health insurance provider to showcase ways to wellness.
"What is the most cherished thing you have in your life? It's your life," Player said. "And to me this is the most, single most important tournament on the TOUR. ...
"The greatest country in the world, the United States, 30 percent of the youth are obese. 55 percent of the grownups are obese. Obesity is doing more harm than the wars of the world, because so many people, through obesity related diseases, are dying by the millions. Not by the thousands, by the millions. And so a tournament like this helps to build awareness."