Golf legend’s son ‘banned’ for shameful stunt

Wayne Player, the son of South African golfing legend Gary Player, has reportedly been banned from The Masters following a suspected publicity stunt during the competition’s opening ceremony last week.

The 58-year-old came under scrutiny for an assumed marketing ploy while American golf icon Lee Elder was being honoured at Augusta National on Thursday morning.

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Lee was the first black golfer to play in The Masters, and the sporting trailblazer was invited to take part in the Honorary Starters Ceremony, which involved Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus performing a tee shot.

But eagled-eyed viewers of the broadcast noticed that Wayne Player — positioned behind Elder and serving as his father’s honorary caddie — was holding a sleeve of OnCore golf balls, a company he has been an ambassador for since 2019.

Player inevitably copped a wave of backlash for the move.

In a fresh twist, Player’s brother Marc apologised for Wayne’s actions on social media, claiming The Masters had decided to ban him.

“Wayne has since correctly been banned from Augusta National and The Masters tournament,” Marc posted to Twitter.

“What a shame. What an embarrassment. What a bad decision to allow him on the first tee after years of similar shenanigans. My apologies to all.”

Despite the bombshell claim, Augusta National and The Masters are yet to confirm whether Marc’s allegations are true.

READ MORE: Masters mayhem after Adam Sandler tweet

Speaking to Golf Digest this week, Player suggested he simply intended to showcase the ball his father was playing with during the ceremony.

“The only thought from that point was that it would be cool for fans to know what ball my dad was teeing off with,” Wayne said.

“That’s where it ends. If I’ve hurt people’s feelings, then I’m truly sorry and hope they will forgive me.”

OnCore chief executive Keith Blakely said in a statement, “We did not ask or instruct Mr Player to have our ball sleeve visible during the ceremony and are sorry if his actions caused any offence or was a distraction from the wonderful recognition being paid to Mr Elder.”

In 2019, Wayne spent five nights in jail after being arrested on fraud charges in Georgia stemming from the week of the 2018 Masters.

He had rented a residence in Evans, Georgia, in January 2018 but allegedly paid for the two-night, $US2000 stay with a check that bounced. After unsuccessfully attempting to recover the money the homeowner reported the incident to police in July that year.

Wayne was detained on the outstanding warrant in January 2019 while on a stopover in Atlanta. He spent five nights in a detention centre before the charges were dropped.

He told the Golf Channel at the time the $US2000 had since been paid.

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Daniel Ricciardo gives Lewis Hamilton a dose of reality

Daniel Ricciardo believes Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed not having the “strongest competition” during his dominance of Formula One.

Hamilton, 36, is aiming to break the world titles record he shares with Michael Schumacher this season.

McLaren ace Ricciardo, 31, aimed something of a diplomatic dig at the reigning champion and suggested a number of other drivers could also win races if handed the keys to the all-powerful Mercedes.

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“To answer it diplomatically, Lewis isn’t the only one that could win races in that car,” he told Square Mile.

“George Russell, in a way, showed the possibility of that by pretty much beating Valtteri (Bottas) in his first race. So you could argue that just maybe Lewis doesn’t have the strongest competition.”

The debate over F1’s GOAT will continue to rumble on as Hamilton pushes for his eighth crown.

While Ricciardo thinks he could give Hamilton a run for his money in the same car, he admitted the mental pressure that comes with being the favourite at every race is on another level.

“Where we can’t be too aggressive or disrespectful to Lewis, is that, do a few of us believe we could beat him? Yes. I’m quite sure of that,” Ricciardo said.

“But none of us have ever been in the hunt for a title. None of us have dealt with that pressure. None of us have had that year after year.

“Pretty much every weekend he rocks up to a race. Yes, he has the best car, but he’s also expected to win all the time. And if he doesn’t, it’s, ‘OK, what happened to Lewis?’.”

Ricciardo: Easier now to be friends with Max

Max Verstappen is expected to provide serious competition for this year’s world championship.

Having pushed Hamilton all the way in Bahrain, they will duel again at Imola this weekend and Ricciardo opened up on his relationship with his old Red Bull teammate.

“It’s easier now for me and Max to be friends for two reasons,” Ricciardo said.

“One is that obviously we’re not in direct competition – we’re not trying to basically end each other’s careers.

“The second point is that … I won races with him as a teammate and got pole position so I think he always knew I was quick and respected me.

“But now, since I’ve left, the other drivers have come through and him having different teammates, it’s probably increased his respect for me even more.

“I mean we never hated each other, we just wanted to end each other’s careers! It’s as simple as that.”

— The Sun

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