Gary Player has been announced as the captain of South Africa's Rio 2016 golf teams ©Getty Images

Nine-times major winner Gary Player has been named captain of the South African teams for next year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the South African Golf Association (SAGA) has announced.

The 79-year-old’s experience is seen as vital in leading the team at the Games, having won more than 165 tournaments throughout his career while also being the only golfer to complete the Grand Slam on the regular and senior tours.

Player has won both The Open and the Masters on three separate occasions, claiming two US PGA Championship victories and one US Open crown.

"I am delighted to accept the captaincy and look forward to leading our top professionals on the fairways of the Rio Olympics next year,” Player said.

"This is such a big moment for our country and for the game of golf as a whole, and I am proud to be a part of this.

"Golf and the Olympic Movement share the same core values, so this is a very big opportunity to grow the game around the world.

"Our goal is to earn South Africa its first Olympic gold medal in a sport that has always done this country proud.”

Player’s captaincy was revealed at the Soweto Country Club, where the South African’s remarkable career and contribution to golf in the nation was recognised with a golf day in his honour.

Speaking about the announcement, Gerhard Conradie, President of SAGA, paid tribute to Player’s performances and his charity work, believing it makes him a perfect fit to be an inspiration to the country’s top golfers at the Olympics in his role as captain.

Ernie Els could feature in South Africa's team for next year's Olympics
Ernie Els could feature in South Africa's team for next year's Olympics ©Getty Images

"Gary is our greatest golfer and one of this country’s greatest ambassadors,” he said.

"His career on the golf course and his philanthropic efforts off it embody everything of the Olympic spirit, and we are proud that he has accepted to lead South Africa’s first Olympic golf team to Rio."

Golf is set to make only its third appearance at the Olympics, having not been included on the sport programme since St Louis in 1904, with men’s and women’s individual tournaments due to be held in Barra de Tijuca.

The sport was reinstated onto the Olympic programme at the International Olympic Committee Session in Copenhagen in 2009.

Selwyn Nathan, executive director of the Sunshine Tour, believes Player’s involvement in the Olympic competition is apt considering how much he has given the sport during his career.

“As golf’s undisputed global ambassador, it is very fitting that the game’s return to the Olympic fold for the first time in more than a century should feature a man recognised worldwide for his contribution to the game,” he said.

“We are proud to have him lead our South African team.”

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