• South African calls criticism of Spieth's form 'very unfair'
• "I'd let it all go through one ear and out the other" says Player
• Also discusses Tiger Woods amid rumours of Augusta return
Gary Player has out at critics of Jordan Spieth’s poor recent form as the American prepares to defend the Masters next week.
Speaking to Laureus.com, the South African – three times a winner at Augusta National – described the criticism levelled at the 22-year-old as ‘very unfair’ and insisted that Spieth, below, has ‘got a great chance’ of becoming only the fourth player ever to successfully the Green Jacket.
“If I was Jordan Spieth, I'd let it all go through one ear and out the other ear,” said Player. “Golf is not like tennis where you've got to win seven matches to win a Grand Slam. Golf, you've got to beat 156 people and you get a starting time when you play in the morning and it's sunny, and the afternoon it's windy. You take tennis, you just play your opponent in the same conditions, and you've got to beat seven people to win. It's a big difference.”
"Spieth is the best putter" - Gary Player
Player added that Spieth’s prowess with the shortest club in his bag would also stand in him good stead next week.
“He's the best putter,” said the 80-year-old. “If you said to me, would I like to be the greatest striker of a ball from tee to green or would I like to be the best putter, I'd take the best putter every day.”
Meanwhile, Player also discussed Tiger Woods, above. The 14-time major winner hasn’t played a competitive round of golf on the PGA Tour since last August and has fallen to No.472 on the Official World Golf Rankings as he fights to regain full fitness following back surgery.
Rumours persist that Woods may make his much-anticipated return at the Masters next week, where he has won four times and finished in the top five a further seven times since 1997.
“He's at the crossroads of his career at the moment,” said Player. “I hope he comes back and plays well. We need a Tiger Woods. He's such a charismatic, dynamic golfer and I just hope he gets over all his problems and he can come back and do well, because we must never forget, there's nothing that compares in golf, ever, compared to what Tiger Woods did, winning the Grand Slam at 24. That's the greatest effort ever produced in golf.”