The saga of Wayne Player and the golf ball marketing stunt heard 'round the world is nearing a conclusion.
During remarks prior to the ceremonial opening of the 2021 Masters, Wayne Player, son of Gary, held a sleeve of golf balls in an awkward and conspicuous fashion right behind Lee Elder. Although logos are present all over the gear of players at Augusta National, Wayne Player's move struck many as tasteless, given that he did so as Elder was being honored for being the first Black man to play in the Masters.
Speaking to Ann Liguori of WFAN, as spotted by Golf Digest, Gary Player addressed the incident, though he stopped short of confirming his son Marc's contention that Wayne Player had been "banned" from Augusta National.
“It was wrong,” Player told WFAN. “And I said to Augusta, ‘Listen, a man’s got to take his punishment. If he does something wrong and you don’t want him back here again, then just bar him. That’s what you got to do.’ ” Player did not confirm whether, in fact, Wayne would not be permitted back inside the gates of Augusta National.
“I don’t think he did it with any malice,” Player added. “He was basically telling his friends, ‘My father will play this ball.’ And I think his friends didn’t believe it because it’s not a ball on the market.”
Player attempted a touch of he-who-is-without-sin rationalization. “Let me tell you, Augusta has done a lot of things that a lot of people don’t like, as well, throughout history,” Player said. But he also noted that Augusta National has final jurisdiction on the matter.
However, according to Gary Player, there are no hard feelings between Elder and Wayne Player. “Lee Elder is a very dear friend of Wayne’s, a very dear friend,” Player said. “He even phoned Lee Elder and Lee Elder said, ‘Don’t worry about it. My goodness me, I’ve always loved you and you’ve always loved me.’ ”
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at email@example.com.
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