Gary Player's son has been condemned by social media users - including his own brother - for "ambushing" the Masters honorary starter's ceremony with a piece of guerilla marketing.
Wayne Player, 58, was spotted displaying a sleeve of golf balls in the background of the shot as television cameras focused on Lee Elder during this morning's honorary starter's ceremony at Augusta National.
Elder, 86, was the first black golfer to play in The Masters and, as the US continues to wrestle with race relations, he was invited to join regular starters Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus this year.
Ill health prevented the four-time PGA Tour winner from joining Player and Nicklaus hitting a shot but, as the cameras trained their lenses on him, eagle-eyed viewers were quick to spot Player Jnr's opportunism.
He was seen holding a sleeve of balls made by OnCore, a New York-based ball company that Player has been an ambassador of since 2019.
Here's the moment...
Social media users were quick to blast Player Jnr for seizing upon what should have been a poignant moment for Elder, amongst Player's estranged son, and Wayne's brother, Marc.
Shame on Wayne Player for commercializing the honorary starting ceremony at the Masters! Disgusting display.— Danny White (@dannyw96) April 8, 2021
A couple people have pointed it out (as I didn't catch it in the moment) but Gary Player's caddie (I'm sure he was not acting on his own) using Lee Elder's moment to try and sell golf balls was ... really bad.— Kevin Van Valkenburg (@KVanValkenburg) April 8, 2021
In response to the controversy, OnCore's CEO released a statement distancing the company from the controversy.
"We are aware of the criticisms that have been raised as a result of our product being displayed by Wayne Player at this morning's ceremonial tee shot at the Masters, most specifically during the introduction of Lee Elder, one of golf's trailblazers," wrote Keith Blakely.
"We did not ask or instruct Mr Player to have our ball sleeve visible during the ceremony and are sorry if his actions caused any offense or was a distraction from the wonderful recognition being paid to Mr Elder."
This is not Wayne Player's first brush with controversy in Augusta. In 2019, he was arrested on fraud charges stemming from a rental agreement he made for housing during the 2018 Masters.