This year’s Masters Tournament marks Gary Player’s introduction as an Honourary Starter. Given both his place in the event’s history and mastery of the provocative soundbite, it’s an appointment long overdue.
The South African, now 76, celebrated his graduation to ceremonial status by giving a pre-tournament press conference yesterday and, in true Gary Player fashion, holding forth on a range of pertinent (and not so pertinent) topics.
- On competition with Jack and Arnie: “I’ve been training very hard. I’ve just come from the gym right now, in fact. I increased my sit‑ups and my weights. Absolutely. We’ve been very competitive… When they beat me, I said, ‘Well played, you played like a champion.’ When I beat them, they said the same thing. And that’s how good friends are supposed to be.”
- On Rory’s US Open bounce-back: “That was remarkable for me to see that. If you look at certain competitors‑‑ well, if you look at‑‑ I hate to ever mention names. But if you look at Ed Snead, Ed Snead had to finish with one par on the last three holes to win, and he bogeyed all three holes. And you never, ever heard of Ed Snead again. He never won again…”
- On I.K. Kim’s Kraft Nabisco meltdown: “I don’t often watch golf, but on Sunday, I watched this lady miss a putt that long (gesturing one foot in length). She could knock it in at midnight; she could knock it in blindfolded; she could knock it in at with one hand; she could kick it in and she missed the putt. I pray that that doesn’t have an effect on it, but that could. That could ruin her career. That’s possible. I don’t say it will, but it’s possible. My heart bled for her.”
- On equipment: “You know, I’ve been playing very well lately. I’ve been beating my age. But every round I’ve played, I’ve beaten my age by at least five shots lately. And it’s such an easier game now. It’s just quite unbelievable. The ball goes 50 yards further… So [developers] get together and lengthen the golf course. More water, more fuel, more labor, more machinery, and the costs go up. And they say, oh, we have to levy the members and the members don’t like it, and the members resign. And that’s why golf has declined, because these people have gone the wrong way.”
- More on equipment: “So I think we have gone about it the wrong way for the betterment of golf. I’m just shocked when I see all these young people on the Tour, too. I see them playing with a putter up here and a putter here. I was playing with a guy the other day with a putter in his nose. This is a Pro‑Am and I said, what the hell are you doing?”
- On the two-ball solution: “Two balls? Definitely. Look, I mentioned this, and the R&A, which I’m a very big fan of, said that you‑‑ they are the same game. They are not the same game. If you think they are the same game, bring an amateur to come and play against Tiger Woods, and you’ll sure as hell see they are not the same game. You are oblivious to the fact that it’s not the same game. It ain’t the same game. “
Why can’t they all be like this?