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.
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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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