In a surprising turn of events, Gary Player is going on the offensive against LIV Golf.
In a recent interview with BBC Radio 5, the 86-year-old Player, a Golf Saudi ambassador, unleashed a wave of criticism on the Saudi-backed circuit and the players who have joined it.
“How can you ever be a champion playing a tour with 54 holes and no cut?” Player said. “What sort of tour is that? 54 holes, no cut, a team event nobody understands. It’s a tour for people who don’t have confidence in their future. They don’t have the confidence they can be winners.
“It’s never going to compare to the regular tour. No chance.”
Player continued, saying that he would not trade his nine majors for $1 billion, that LIV has “declared war” on the PGA Tour but could never overtake the PGA Tour as the world’s top golf tour, and that LIV players should be banned from the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, the majors, “all those things,” he said.
“You can’t have your cake and eat it,” Player added. “That’s the bed you’ve chosen, that’s the bed you’ve got to lie in.”
Player specifically singled out Aussie and world No. 2 Cam Smith, who this week was announced as one of six new LIV signees along with Joaquin Niemann, Harold Varner III, Marc Leishman, Cameron Tringale and Anirban Lahiri.
“Here’s a young man I really thought was going to be a superstar. Now what sort of future does he have?” Player said of Smith, this year’s Open and Players champion. “Will he be able to realize this great dream of being a champion? I don’t know. I don’t blame [Henrik] Stenson for going. He had no money, so he had to go. But this is a potential superstar. I think his advisors have given him the wrong advice.”
Player’s comments, however, are unexpected considering his relationship with Saudi Arabia. He wore a Golf Saudi logo as an honorary starter at this year’s Masters and this summer donned an Aramco Team Series (also sponsored by Golf Saudi) patch during the Celebration of Champions event prior to The Open. He also has talked this year about his course-design opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
And in June, as pointed out by Golf Digest, he had this to say about LIV Golf when speaking to Sky Sports: “This tour [LIV], which the Saudis – who by the way are our allies, let's never forget that. I hear a lot of detrimental things being said, but remember this, the players that are playing there now, they need the money. They've got families and I don't blame them for playing there.”