Masters 2022: Social media reacts to Gary Player's controversial logo during Honorary Starters ceremony
AUGUSTA, Ga. — For the second straight year the Masters’ Honorary Starters ceremony created a discussion beyond simply the opening tee shots.
During Thursday’s ceremony fans on social media noticed a Saudi Golf logo on Gary Player’s quarter-zip sweater along with his golf bag. Companies attaching themselves to Honorary Starters is not new; fellow starters Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson were adorned with plenty of advertisers. However, the Saudi Golf enterprise—essentially an offshoot of the Saudi Arabian government—is highly controversial in the sport as it attempts to start a league to rival the PGA and European Tours.
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson’s relationship with the Saudi league and his comments in recent months about the league created a backlash that caused him to not attend the tournament for the first time in three decades.
Which is why many took to Twitter following the ceremony questioning Player’s sponsorship choice.
Amplifying the matter is what happened during last year’s ceremony. In 2021, Lee Elder was recognized on the first tee for breaking the tournament’s color barrier in 1975. The moment, unfortunately, was hijacked by Gary Player’s son, Wayne, who stood behind Elder during his moment in a brazen attempt of guerilla marketing for Oncore golf balls. The move backfired, with the company issuing an apology and stating it had no idea of Wayne’s effort.
Player was named an ambassador of Saudi Golf in April 2021. “I have long admired the vision of Golf Saudi, but more importantly the work that is being done on the ground to provide access to the sport for all levels,” Player said at the announcement.
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