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Woods triumph would be huge boost for golf, insists legend Player


By Phil Casey

Gary Player believes golf would be the big winner if Tiger Woods tasted victory in The Open at Carnoustie this week.

14-time Major winner Woods is playing in the tournament for the first time in three years after recovering from a succession of back surgeries.

Woods (42) transformed golf's commercial appeal by dominating the sport in his early career, and Player would like to see the American return to his very best.

The 82-year-old said: "My big wish would be that he would win because Tiger Woods is responsible for these guys playing for a million every week.

"I think Tiger captures the young people, which we need in this game desperately. If he can bring this, it enhances the game and brings more young people into the game. He brings more people, the sponsors are delighted, the public are delighted and the media are delighted because you are still in awe of him.

"I think Tiger Woods will win another tournament and I hope he will win another Major because we desperately need him to do that for the sake of the game. I hope he plays well."

Player, however, feels there is a downside to attracting more sponsors because some players are earning figures far exceeding their achievements.

The nine-time Major winner said: "We wanted a man to play in our charity event at Wentworth one year - he wanted $500,000 for the one day.

"We've got to be very careful that we don't kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Managers have got to be realistic and realise that every golfer playing has a debt to society.

"Tiger Woods was paid millions of dollars. He deserved it because he was in a league of his own and he brought people in.

"But when you see an ordinary player who's never won a Major asking for $500,000 or more, it's a very sad day."

Player was speaking at a press conference at Carnoustie to mark the 50th anniversary of the second of his three Open victories, which came at the Angus links.

Despite his wish for Woods to win, the South African accepts the tournament is wide open.

He said: "The way the course is set at the moment, as the conditions are, anybody who plays in this tournament could win."

Meanwhile, R&A officials have hinted that had Phil Mickelson attempted his hitting-a-moving-ball stunt at The Open he would have been disqualified.

At last month's US Open, the five-time Major winner badly overhit a putt on the 13th green in the third round and then ran after it to hit it again while it was still rolling to prevent it travelling off the putting surface.

The American incurred a two-shot penalty for a breach of rule 14-5, although many players and ex-professionals felt he should have been disqualified under rule 33-7, which also gives a tournament committee the right to disqualify a player for a serious breach of etiquette.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said: "We understand the USGA and the referees' decisions that were made at Shinnecock.

"In the event of a similar situation this week, the first thing is you understand the facts.

"But we have looked very carefully at the rules and I don't think it was good for the game.

"There are other parts of the rule book which refer to etiquette and the powers of the committee, and we're fully aware of those clauses in that rule."

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