Gary Player took a big bite out of the hand that fed him, chewed, and spit out this pearl.

"I'm particularly pleased to win because when you're second - and I've said this many times - nobody remembers but your wife and your dog," the defending champion said after firing a 4-under-par 68 to score a two-stroke victory over Bob Charles in an 18-hole playoff for the U.S. Senior Open golf title.The playoff over Medinah's grueling No. 3 course became necessary when Charles, a 52-year-old New Zealander and the Senior Tour's leading money-winner, blew a three-shot lead Sunday over the final four holes of the 6,881-yard layout. He finished tied with the steady Player at even-par 288 after regulation.

Walking to the first tee Monday, Charles must have felt like a man who shot himself in the foot - only worse. He, after all, put the extra round in Player's dueling pistol.

"After having the tournament in my pocket yesterday," said Charles, "and thinking back that I played them in 3-over yesterday and 1-under today, they were not quite the monsters I made them out to be.

"Probably, this is one of the biggest disappointments in my career . . . I haven't won a major in Senior golf, and this was the best opportunity I've had," said Charles.

Player, a 52-year-old South African, grabbed the two-stroke advantage that he never yielded with a 12-foot birdie putt at the 404-yard third hole while Charles made bogey after being forced to play his approach from the trees on the right side of the fairway following an errant tee shot.

"I felt if I could get him quickly and capitalize on the fact that Bob let me in the door, psychologically, it would help," Player said.

It also didn't hurt that Player played nearly flawless golf, hitting 16 greens en route to his bogey-free round. He scorched the front nine in 3-under 33, and held off a late charge by Charles with another birdie at No. 13.

Charles made the turn in 1-over 37, then collected three birdies on the back for 33 and a finishing 70.