'It's Just Sad' - Gary Player Says He Has To 'Beg' To Play A Round At Augusta
Gary Player claims he has to “beg” to go and play a round at Augusta National despite being a three-time Masters champion, saying that the club does not make him feel welcome despite being someone who “helped make this tournament what it is”.
The 87-year-old attracted criticism for putting the Masters bottom of the list of golfing Majors, although it was a view that had also previously been shared by Jack Nicklaus.
Critics had said that Player should even be stripped of his ceremonial role as honorary starter at the Masters alongside Nicklaus and Tom Watson, but there’s no chance of the South African ever backing down.
In an interview with The Times, Player reveals that hitting that ceremonial tee shot is one of the few chances he gets to actually play Augusta National, as he launched a stinging attack on how he feels he is treated by the Green Jackets.
“After all I’ve contributed to the tournament and been an ambassador for them, I can’t go and have a practice round there with my three grandchildren without having to beg a member to play with us, and there’s always some excuse. It’s terribly, terribly sad,” Player told The Times.
“I’ve played my role: I’ve won it three times; I was in the top ten 15 times; I made the most number of cuts in a row ever, yet here we are struggling to get a round.
"That’s why I rate the Open No 1. If it wasn’t for the players, (Augusta) would just be another golf course in Georgia.
“It’s just sad - and I put great emphasis on the word ‘sad’ - that Augusta don’t make you feel welcome in that regard, because I helped make this tournament what it is.”
Never one to hold back when discussing himself, Player also says that he’s had great support from people and was keen to point out more of his achievements in golf.
“I’ve had phenomenal support. I don’t think there’s anybody on this planet who gets more love than me,” he added.
“There’s no golfer who’s ever had a tougher life than I have. I’ve won more tournaments than any man alive. I’ve won more national Opens than Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer put together. I’ve done remarkable things.”