Gary Player says government should stay out of sport

Legendary golfer Gary Player believes government and sports should not mix as the golf world goes through a major merger that has sparked antitrust concerns.

Speaking to CNBC at the Berenberg Invitational on Monday, the South African golfer said the two had become “too close.”

“We need to convince governments to stay out of sport. It’s absolutely vital,” the 87-year-old Hall of Famer said. “Let sporting bodies stick to sports and politicians should stick to politics.”

Player, however, is no stranger to political involvement in sport. He has served as an ambassador for Golf Saudi, an organization that strives to make the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a greater force in the sport. He is now an ambassador for the Saudi energy giant Aramco. He displays his logo on his golf shirts.

Player also said he supports the proposed merger between Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, which has drawn criticism and scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers, not to mention golfers. . (Previously, Player spoke out against players leaving the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf, saying it was for “guys who can’t win a regular tournament anymore.”)

“By coming together now, players will have more money to play forever, whereas it might not have lasted forever,” he said. “The world will benefit from bringing the parts together.”

Last week, a U.S. Senate subcommittee held its second hearing on the proposed merger. Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic chairman of the subcommittee, subpoenaed the Saudi Public Investment Fund for information related to the merger and other U.S. investments.

Player also said he objects to athletes being too political, especially those who don’t stand for the national anthem, as well as the political views of the United States women’s national soccer team.

Golf and charity player

Player, who is just one of five players to win all four majors, has won nine majors in total and has played golf with every president of the United States over the past 70 years, spoke of the game he loves.

He offered his views on the upcoming Ryder Cup to Marco Simone in Italy.

“I am totally against the captain’s choices,” he said. “Incentives are important. Have a system, you know the main 12 events…they’re going to represent the United States. That’s the way it should be,” Player said.

In 1989, the US Ryder Cup team adopted the highly controversial use of “captain’s picks”, where team captains choose who represents the United States. This practice has existed for more than four decades internationally.

The player was in Bedford Hill, New York, for his celebrity golf event that raises money for pancreatic cancer, from which his wife died in 2021.

“Golf is the best catalyst for raising money for charities around the world,” he said.

Playing Golf for a Good Cause: Hall of Fame Golfer Gary Player at the Berenberg Invitational

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