As the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links drew to a close, three-time Open champion Gary Player slammed the attitude of some of the modern players.
The nine-time Major champion Player criticised the reluctance of current players to give freely of their time.
“If it wasn’t for you guys and women in this room, we wouldn’t be playing for the kind of prize money we’re playing for, and young athletes don’t recognise this,” said the 82-year-old.
Eight of the 12 South Africans playing in The Open before the tournament began on Thursday were approached for comment over the weekend and only two were enthusiastic and willing to do an interview.
One two-time SA Major champion was interviewed near the putting green after he finished a session, and was particularly reluctant when requested for an interview.
When pushed for ‘just two minutes please’ he responded ‘okay, one minute’. The resultant interview did not end in a published story.
Player said it was short-sighted for players to have this attitude.
“The number of athletes that refuse to do interviews — and I’m sure many of you have had that experience, or will give you three minutes — don’t know what they’re doing because you guys are promoting the tournaments. You’re bringing out the crowds. You’re informing the public. You’re making the sponsors happy, because the sponsors aren’t going to put up that money unless they get promoted.
“And everything is promotion in this life, whether you promote yourself as an athlete, whether you’re a Callaway, a businessman, whatever you are. When you’re doing articles, you’re promoting your name and for your newspaper.”
It must also be said though, that young amateur Jovan Rebula was also totally willing to give freely of his time.
The youngster celebrates his 21st birthday on Sunday and is mentored by his famous uncle Ernie Els, and the recently-crowned British Amateur champion is proving to be a clear asset to South African golf.
Rebula battled on his Major debut, and though he said his poor performance was not down to nerves – it probably was even if he didn’t know it.
Having finished his two rounds in second last position in the field, he had no problem coming in for an interview and was one of the longest chats this reporter had with a South African player this week.