• "Never mind stats, eyes don't lie," said the 80-year-old
• Worries about the Old Course as distance gets longer
GARY PLAYER | THE R&A
Gary Player has branded the research document released by the R&A and USGA into driving distance as ‘laughable’.
The document, released last week, claimed that distance was up only 1% on four of the seven main tours, while it had decreased by the same percentage on the other three tours.
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But speaking at a Mercedes-Benz event at Royal Troon five weeks before the start of the Open Championship, the nine-time major winner hotly disputed the findings and said you only have to see for yourself how far the players are hitting it to know that it’s a growing problem within the game.
"It’s really laughable" - Gary Player
“It just doesn’t make sense,” said the 80-year-old. “You can’t take an average. Take the 20 longest hitters from whatever era you like, put it together and compare it to now – and you’ll see a 50-yard difference.
“I know because Nicklaus was leading driver with 287 and today, it’s got to be at least – well, the longest drivers like Rory – you keep hearing that he’s regularly hitting it 340-350 yards. That never happened in our time. It’s really laughable.”
In 2005, when still playing on the Champions Tour, Gary Player called for equipment changes, saying that continued releases and growth in driving distances was ‘ruining golf’.
And he raised his concerns about St Andrews as an Open Championship venue in the decades to come, claiming players will soon be able to reach the green off the tee on almost half of the holes on the Old Course.
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“I mean, there’s a guy called Jamie Sadlowski, he would stand on the first tee at St Andrews and drive over the green,” added Gary Player. “Never mind stats, eyes don’t lie and there are many players in the world who would drive over the green. So, I’m not interested in these stats. I’m seeing things that were not possible – 360, sometimes 400-yard drives.
"We’ve got a tsunami coming" - Gary Player
“And this is why I’ve been vehemently outspoken about the ball. We’re in for big trouble if we don’t change the ball. In the years to come, you’ll see players drive the green on eight of the holes at St Andrews. Will that be an Open Championship? It’ll be laughable.
“We’ve got a tsunami coming because we’ve got guys going to the gym now and working out – which I was condemned for and called an idiot for doing – so it’s really a lot of crap. It’s Mickey Mouse what you’re seeing now because soon we’re going to see real athletes. It better change, otherwise they’re going to be caught with their pants down.”
Gary Player is an ambassador for Mercedes-Benz - an Official Patron of the Open Championship.
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