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Gary Player 'Sad' About Relationship With Augusta National: 'I Helped Make This Tournament What It Is'

The first international Masters champion said Augusta National 'would be just another golf course in Georgia' without Masters players.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Gary Player is not happy with the home of the Masters. The three-time champion said an interview with the Times of London that he’s frustrated at how difficult it is to play a round with friends and family at Augusta National.

“After all I’ve contributed to the tournament and been an ambassador for them, I can’t go and have a practice round there with my three grandchildren without having to beg a member to play with us," Player said in the interview. “And there’s always some excuse. It’s terribly, terribly sad.

“I’ve played my role. I’ve won it three times. I was in the top 10 15 times. I made the most cuts in a row ever (23), yet here we are struggling to get a round. If it wasn’t for the players, (Augusta National) would be just another golf course in Georgia.

“It’s just sad. And I put great emphasis on the word 'sad'—that Augusta (doesn’t) make you feel welcome in that regard because I helped make this tournament what it is."

Player, 87, was the first international player to win the Masters when he defeated Arnold Palmer in 1961. He also won the tournament in 1974 and 1978, shooting a final-round 64 which remains a record for the lowest last-round score shot by a winner.

As a past champion he is considered an honorary member, but when playing the course it is required he do so with an Augusta National member.

Player is scheduled to kick off the tournament as an honorary starter with Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson on Thursday. Two years ago, Player was involved in controversy at the ceremony when his son, Wayne, who was his caddie for the shot, was accused of marketing a golf ball as part of the proceedings.

In each of the past two years, Player has also worn a logo for Golf Saudi, an organization that promotes golf in Saudi Arabia and is affiliated with the Public Investment Fund, Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, which underwrites LIV Golf and has sued the PGA Tour.