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He Cheated

Nov. 24, 2004     By     Comments (41)

Gary Player a cheat? What's the world coming to?

Gary Player cheated, so they say:

Recent conversation on RSG about Gary Player. What started off as a fairly innocent question - "Just how did he win all those majors?" - became colored instantly when someone dropped the hammer with two words.

"He cheated."

Gary Player, a common cheat? I didn't want to believe it. This same Gary Player

…is a firm believer in doing things the right way. He recalls a time when he could have gotten away with a minor rules infraction. Instead, he reported his innocent error and was disqualified from a tournament he easily could have won. "If I had not turned myself in, I would have had to live the rest of my life with the knowledge that I had cheated… Much better is the feeling I have today that even though I left a trophy and check behind… I still have my dignity and honor."

What's going on here?

The Scotsman.com reports on another incident involving Gary Player:

Cheating is the great unmentionable in professional golf and until this summer the most notorious rumour in golf was that Gary Player had cheated his way to victory in the 1974 Open Championship, courtesy of his caddie dropping a second ball at the 71st hole after the South African hit his tee-shot in the rough. It is unmentioned no more.

How did he cheat? The first story provides some more details.

Eventually, the details came out… apparently one of Player's favorite tricks when he missed a fairway was to pull out a fairway wood and take a stance behind the ball - tamping the grass down - and then "changing his mind" and deciding to hit an iron. Obviously, this'll prevent the twisting irons are subject to when you're hitting down on a ball in the rough - and if you tamp it down enough, you might even be able to give yourself a clean lie that you could pick. That shot just became twenty times easier.

Again, the evidence was sketchy, until one of the posters weighed in - one who spent a lot of years covering the tour in the media. Gary's got the reputation, alright, he said; more than one long time pro talked about it from time to time. Tom Watson called him on it at one of the early Skins games, with a very Watson-esque "Gary, we're gettin' sick of this shit."

So there it is. The words "cheat" and "Gary Player" together.

Wow.

Discussion

  1. Joe says:

    Gary Player was one of my heros in golf, and life in general for that matter. I always said if there's one person who I'd like to be as fit as when I'm in my sixties, it's Gary Player. To me, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Seve Ballesteros made up the golden age of golf which no era could hold a candle to. Now with Seve facing possible assult charges and these new allegations on Gary, the golden era is slowly turing to lead. . . I guess sometimes ignorance really is bliss

  2. Don't lose all hope, Joe. The allegations against Seve are pretty weak, and a Google search on Gary Player turned up more stuff about Ken Venturi calling Arnold Palmer a cheat in the '58 Masters than it did on Gary Player.

  3. david pine says:

    tom watson does not take the game of golf lightly, nor does he make commentary without being confident of the facts and his beliefs. it took guts to call gary player out - player knew most would not - and, by the way, watson's pedigree ranks above ballesteros', though seve and faldo are right behind.

  4. hr martin says:

    This this the worst kind of journalism. There is not one shred of evidence substantiating the allegations against Gary Player. To anyone reading this reply, please go back and carefully reread the articles referenced and look for specifics. You will find nothing except unsubstantiated assertions.

  5. There is not one shred of evidence substantiating the allegations against Gary Player.

    I don't think Tom Watson would agree with you on that. Relations between him and Gary remain strained to this day.

    I agree the allegations are weak, but they're out there just the same.

  6. hr martin says:

    Erik, thanks for your reply. I know the allegations are out there. When Watson made his comment about Player, it was not Watson's finest hour. When you consider the high degree of respect and friendship Palmer and Nicklaus extend to Player, that has to far outweigh Watson's petulant comment in the minds of golf fans. Now that Watson is older and presumably wiser, I hope he clears the air with Player before it's too late.

  7. When Watson made his comment about Player, it was not Watson's finest hour.

    I don't know that you can say that. You weren't there, and I don't think Tom Watson's integrity can really be questioned. Just as you're here trying to defend Gary, I'll defend Tom Watson in that regard. If Gary was well known for doing as Watson suggested, finally calling Gary on it isn't a bad thing.

    Neither of us can really know, though, so that about ends that.

  8. hr martin says:

    Agreed. It was a pleasure having this dialogue with you. Cheers.

  9. dp roberts says:

    Having played golf for 30 years now I can still remember my Father talking about Gary Player Cheating in The Open. He was there and seen it with his own eyes. I'll never look at Player again with anything but contempt!

  10. longchamps says:

    There's another incident. A few years ago, I want to say it was the British Open, perhaps the Senior British Open, and Player asked for an official to observe while he, Player, identified his ball in the rough, as the rules allow. Player picked up his ball, "identified" it, then replaced it. Only thing is, his ball was sitting noticeably higher in the rough after this identification. Peter what's his name, Aliss, was the commentator, along with somebody else, and the two got very quiet, the only comment being Aliss's, "Very interesting."

  11. Rodney says:

    Being a South African myself, I am disgusted in Gary Player for cheating in the 1970 Open Championship. If he was more of a man, and stopped praising himself, he would have admitted to cheating.

    All his fans want to deny this, but only two people know he cheated Gary and his Caddy. How they live with it, only they know, what a shame.

  12. Bill says:

    I happened to play the Tour during Gary's heyday, and there were rumors about his 'bending' the rules all over the place. Many players, not just Watson, knew of his ability to create or improve lies to benefit his performance. Though Peter Kessler did a fairly extensive interview on the Golf Channel with video of the incident at the '74 Open Championship (where Rabbit Dyer found Player's ball seconds before he would have had to declare it lost), nothing definitive was ever produced to disprove his credibility. However, if you watch the video, on the next hole (the 18th and 72nd hole of the championship), Player clearly cheated when his ball came to rest next to the clubhouse. Forced to play a shot left-handed with his putter, he took an initial address over the ball and then looked to the gallery on the roof and asked them to be still so that their shadows didn't distract him. Then, he addressed the ball again, and made a mock practice stroke....an exaggeratedly long stroke, that moved about an inch of soil directly behind the ball in the process. There is no denying this one, as it is as plain as the nose on his face. This improved his lie considerably, and he should have been given a two stroke penalty. To me, that kind of infraction is so obvious to those of us in the profession, it clearly brings the lost ball back into question. I have my doubts, and fear that Rabbit did plant it.

  13. Kankle J says:

    These stories are quite a shame. For some reason I have the image of Player being one of the most self-righteous players in the game. I never really liked him, and now I think I know why. Not only is this a disgrace to the entire golfing community, but it is a huge blunder on his celebrated career. Lie detector test???? lol.

  14. ronny says:

    of course gary player was a cheat everone in those days knew it ,but the little man that wore black helped the pga in those slow years the pga needed him thats why he got by with cheating not all the time did he cheat but ever golfer back then jack arney and the rest knew he was a cheat

  15. SouthpawHack says:

    I have seen the video of the '74 Open championship and it is clear as day. In fact, the R&A members gathered in the balcony above Player as he moved soil on his practice stroke saw it as well. They are clearly heard commenting on his infraction. Once a cheater, always a cheater. Throw in Watson's allegations, Dave Anderson's article, etc, he is a discredit to the game of the worst kind...

  16. ronny says:

    hey,southpawhack your right hes a cheat once a cheat always a cheat, tom watson didnt cheat this week at the british open . but you no what tom watson has the golf gods looking after him not that little cheat that wears black.

  17. Mike Hobart says:

    Gary Player cheated to win the 1974 British Open.

    His second shot landed in deep rough well to the right of the 17th fairway about 100 yards short of the green.

    Another ball was found about 60 yards from the green in lighter rough. Player hit the ball claiming it as his.

    The story does not end here folks....

    ....A ball with the identical markings of Player's was later found by local members of Royal Lythan and St Annes at a distance of about 100 yards from the green.

    The ball that was found in the deep rough (where witnesses watched Player's ball enter the thickett of bush) was presented to Open officials. Not much the officals could do although, as Player's scorecard was signed off.

    Apparently the ball was displayed somewhere quite public (possibly in the R&A museum) with the words "Mr Player.... the ball?"

    Player has never responsed respectfully to "the ball" claim.

  18. John R says:

    I've had the pleasure of caddying for Gary 6 times, including in a British Senior's Open. He is nothing but a 100% honest, dedicated professional. He is a role model to all and, from what I have experienced during my time with him, would never even think of cheating.

  19. SouthpawHack says:

    John R,

    In all due respect, caddying for someone 6 times does not mean you know if he would 'even think of cheating'. That gets to the very character and moral fiber of someone and I don't believe you were in a position to judge this. I've seen the video evidence and heard enough questions from very esteemed colleagues of his to make a very clear judgement. Gary Player is a common cheater. There is nothing higher or more important in golf than one's character and respect for his fellow competitors. His competitors may put on a happy face and pretend there is a mutual respect for him but they know the truth...he is not worthy.

  20. mike flynn says:

    Gary player is a CHEATER. A few years back he was playin at the fred meyer challenge at the Reserve golf course in aloha oregon "The bunker course." On number 11 the long straight forward par 4. He hooked a ball in the thick rough to the left. He then came down and tried to get all of us spectators to help him look for it. I have never been a fan of his so i did not help. But he had that look in his eye. the cheaters look. He looked till they made him stop, Go back and re-tee. He was not happy. And the 1974 open His caddy was like ,"I found it boss." Right before he would have been forced to take a penalty. Yeah right bud. Get a clue. Its not just a game or the game. Its life. And You dont get it bud

  21. I have been a tremendous supporter of Gary Player since 1978 when I met him at Scioto C.C. in Columbus, Ohio. I feel that he has been a tremendous Ambassador of the game of golf for 50 years now. He has given hope to all people and athletes that you can achieve great things through hard work and dedication. He has traveled the world more than any athlete in the history of sports promoting physical fitness and giving inspirational talks to the youth of all races. He fought apartheid from day no. 1 in South Africa and Nelson Mandela called him one the greatest human beings in the world. Now,you have to remember that there is alot of professional jealousy in sports. I really feel that in my heart of hearts that there is know way that Gary Player would ever even consider cheating in the game of golf. He has done more for golf than probably anybody who has ever lived. Why would he be one of the first 13 members inducted in the world golf hall of fame if the committe and or players felt that he was a cheater????

  22. longchamps says:

    Sorry, Willie. But you sound like Dr. Jeffrey McDonald's character witnesses. To which the prosecutor asked: and were you in McDonald's daughters' room that night? Just too much evidence, too much hearsay.

  23. ronny says:

    hey, gary player was a cheat.like i said before all or most of the pga players knew that ,so why do we keep beating this drum. pga needed him at that period of time the pga was hurting badly.in this time he would be a below average golfer in the pga,hey have you ever ever seen tiger woods talk to this little cheater on tv .hell no it is a fact that at least one major he cheated good golfers in the pga cant respect gary player. it takes guts steel nerves and great talent to win any tournament in the pga much less a major. look at monty he couldnt win a major even if he cheated .these cheats need to stay on the other side of the pond they can cheat and get by doing it .gary plyer is a cheat jack arnold allknew but they still kicked his ass anyway...

  24. ronny says:

    hey wille a king never heard of you,i started playing golf when i was three. when i was about ten years old i was playing by my self my father came around the back nine and saw me chipping and asked me what i lay i told 4 it was a par 4,that night he asked me what had on that hole i said a par,he caught me cheating i was just trying to make him happy.he sat me down and explained to me when you play golf and cheat your just cheating youself and never did it again ever.now these people said gary player never cheated when he was caught once on live tv and then the lost ball in that major he won, hell the next day the locals found his first ball.and as for as being fit and healthy does anyone ever remember when player won some tournament some one gave him a beer and as soon as the camera was on him he turned away. i liked player but when you cheat some one out of a major i dont have a damn bit of respect for him. and all the pros back then knew he was a cheater and think tom watson called it on him once

  25. socalbob says:

    nicklaus,palmer,player, and the merry mex. those were the days. i consider myself a sports fan and don't ever recall this cheatnig incident. my dreams are shattered. i do recall tom watson accussing jack nicklaus and gary player of cheating. i think when i see headlines of this nature i totally ignore it as self promotional hype.

  26. tam says:

    I've been doing some digging following Watson latest in the wake of the Woods' news. Reading these pages I see Watson has accused many people over the years. Does anyone else remember live coverage of the Bristish open , years ago when Watson was in his pomp. On the 18th, 1st or second round I think, on the Lancashire coast I think, Watson was in the gorse on the right and had to take drop. Unfortunately just as he was was dropping the ball his knees went very weak and he dropped in height by about 6 inches. Fortunately he recovererd very quickly as the ball fell to ground. I distinctly remember this, and expected a huge furore, but there never was one.Does anyone have a vast video back catalogue who could check this out, or indeed does anyone else remember it?

  27. Bsjoort says:

    Player played an incorrect ball in the early 70s,round 4.I think Weiskopf won by a huge margin,so it was Player and Gibby Gilbert for 2nd.Players ball clearly went into the farther of 2 palmetto thickets.With about 15 seconds left to remain in the 5 minute period,he found "his" ball in the nearer thicket.He got 2nd.Gibby got drunk,and went out to the scene with a friendly rules official.They found Player's original ball!

  28. jon gatward says:

    In 1974 rabbit gary players caddy dropped a ball for player at players instruction.
    At the dinner later a bbc camera man who saw rabbit drop the ball went and found the real ball player struck.
    Ther was a dinner after wards and he went to player and said mr player i believe this belongs to you.
    When player entered the club house jack niclaus said to him" gary your not actually going to take the trophy are you.
    Niclaus never plaed golf with gary Player again.
    Jon Gatward
    Captain Frinton on Sea golf Club1986 and member of the EGU.

  29. hr martin says:

    Regarding Mr. Gatward's comment -
    When one makes an unsubstantiated assertion, it would be wise to not be able to disprove it so easily as by doing a simple google search. When one searches "Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player", it is clear that they have played golf together many times since 1974. I would also refer you to Nicklaus' 2007 quote about Player in this link: http://www.nicklaus.com/nicklaus_news/news053106.php

    "I am flattered and honored that the PGA TOUR has again asked me to captain the United States team in The Presidents Cup for 2007, and I am delighted that I will have the opportunity again to compete against my good friend, Gary Player," Nicklaus said.

    The research confirms over and over again that these two men continue to have very high regard for each other. This is in direct conflict with Mr Gatward's assertions.

  30. SBF says:

    This is kind of humerous - I think that I read 4 different versions of the definitive evidence that GP is a cheater - the ball was found that evening by a newman, the next day by locals, weeks later by locals - the ball was displyaed by the R&A; given to GP by a jouralist ...Infractions overlooked.

    Come on guys.

    As far as some of the other "evidence", it sounds more like a bit of serious gamesmanship. Maybe it pushed the envelop, but to think that this behaviour has gone on for decades is ludicous.

    BTW, honor in golf is a fine thing, but the honor of the game (even for the pros)? It's a game!

  31. Ken says:

    In his 1976 book, Teed Off, by Dave Hill, he mentions a famous golfer who advanced the ball more in his career than Jim Brown did in football. ... Who was that Player?

  32. Richard Jowett says:

    In 1974 rabbit gary players caddy dropped a ball for player at players instruction.At the dinner later a bbc camera man who saw rabbit drop the ball went and found the real ball player struck.Ther was a dinner after wards and he went to player and said mr player i believe this belongs to you.When player entered the club house jack niclaus said to him" gary your not actually going to take the trophy are you.Niclaus never plaed golf with gary Player again.Jon GatwardCaptain Frinton on Sea golf Club1986 and member of the EGU.

    Jack never played with Gary again? Odd then that I was at the 2009 Masters Par 3 Contest and witnessed Jack, Gary and Arnold not only playing together but getting on like long lost brothers. Over how many Scotches and how many times has this fable been re-told? B.B.C. cameraman found the ball that day, or members found the ball the next day. I heard that the ball was finally found on a grassy knoll in Dallas, apparently sucked up by aliens from it's original resting spot just as Gary was bending over to identify it. As Gary is the only one who could see the aliens and no one would believe him, the only thing to do would be to covertly drop another ball and carry on. No harm, no foul right. That is what I heard and yes I do believe it.

  33. Hmm mmm says:

    In an Interview Jack Nicklaus was asked about Player and his response was

    "he always found a way to win"

    Diplomatic wordsmanship from the games greatest player.

  34. robert morley says:

    rob says 2 Joe - so many of our heroes have feet of clay.

  35. Gary Gernat says:

    Stop ridiculing. If we look hard enough, I know every player that played the tour can be found "bending the very stupid, strict rules" of golf. Half of the rules are so ridiculous, even Jack Nicklaus would agree with me if he we able to comment without it becoming a world report.

  36. Don says:

    I wasn't there, and most of you weren't either. A lot of people here casting the first stone. I for one, do not believe that Gary Player cheated. He may have taken advantage of the rule book, but "cheated" - I just do not believe it.

  37. swingman says:

    My friend watched this a few times and he saw something that he would like clarified. On the 18th hole with Player leading by 5 he hit a shot over the green and up against the clubhouse wall and in a flower garden. Player had to turn his club over and hit a left handed shot. My friend thinks that in taking a practice shot he removed a mound of dirt directly behind the ball improving his lie. Does anyone have the video of this?

  38. numnutz says:

    having read the various articles regarding this issue and seen numerous interviews with several players including player himself i am absolutely certain that player DID cheat.

    I was always a fan of gary player as a boy but over the years i ahve seen him several times both in person and in interviews i have totally changed my mind about him. first of all it is clear in the footage from the left handed shot he played against the clubhouse wall that he totally changed his contact area with the ball by moving the soil, that is an irrefutable fact that anyone can see by watching the footage. the numerous cryptic and diplomatic comments made by not just a couple but quite a few people in the know are pretty much obvious. it is clear that peter alliss likes him not one bit, but peter alliss is a gentleman who would never say anything disparaging out loud but he has made several cryptic comments on the subject. jack nicklaus said and i quote "gary always found a way to win" couple this with the wry smile on his face at the time i think we all know what he meant. then there was tom watson "gary, we're getting sick of this shit" that demonstrates a man who knew for years and had got to the end of his tether.

    his unashamed self righteousness on just about every subject not to mention his comment "i believe i had a big part in ending apatheid in south africa" when only years before he endorsed it just goes to prove how far he will go to promote his own self image as the greatest ever human.

    i dont think gary player even knows the meaning of the word "humility" . its all a very long way from bobby jones's famous action of calling a penalty on himself, an action which i think every fan of golf throughout the world is truly proud of,

    im sure there were tournaments he won through his own merit but i do believe he cheated when the occasion called for it and i believe this casts a permanent shadow over all his accomplishments. i was brought up to believe its better to lose with dignity than to win at all costs.

    i think all these factors go into making gary player a truly dislikable person and one who ive lost just about all my respect for. oh and by the way i do believe he cheated!!!!

  39. gravelwalks says:

    In the mid '90's at the British Senior's Open at Royal Portrush on the 9th hole of the final round I witnessed the most appalling behaviour by Gary Player towards a marshall. Player had ballooned his second shot right up onto the dunes - all the spectators were on the the left side of the fairway. I (and others) crossed over and participated in the search for his ball. When the 5 minutes were up and the ball not found Player launched an abusive tirade of the most foul obscenities at the marshall casting doubt on the legitimacy of his parentage amongst other unmentionables. I was truly shocked especially as Player was someone I held in esteem.

    The following day I was playing the same course. I was discussing with my caddy a book, 'Four Iron In the Soul' and mentioned some references therein to incidents of pros cheating. The caddy (who alleged he had caddied on the PGA Tour) retorted 'that's nothing, the biggest cheat of them all is Gary Player'. He went on to relate several incidents of Player cheating including the '74 Open.

    Had I not witnessed Player's outburst the previous day I probably would have taken this with a pinch of salt but somehow it seemed to make sense. Since then, every time I see him on TV I cringe.

  40. ProfessorJim says:

    Bill's account above of the 1974 Open nails it:

    "However, if you watch the video, on the next hole (the 18th and 72nd hole of the championship), Player clearly cheated when his ball came to rest next to the clubhouse. Forced to play a shot left-handed with his putter, he took an initial address over the ball and then looked to the gallery on the roof and asked them to be still so that their shadows didn't distract him. Then, he addressed the ball again, and made a mock practice stroke....an exaggeratedly long stroke, that moved about an inch of soil [and sand] directly behind the ball in the process. There is no denying this one, as it is as plain as the nose on his face. This improved his lie considerably, and he should have been given a two stroke penalty. To me, that kind of infraction is so obvious to those of us in the profession, it clearly brings the lost ball back into question."

    I watched the film of the 1974 Open on Golf Channel and when Gary Player intentionally cleared out the sand and soil behind his ball on a practice backswing, I almost jumped out of my chair. No golfer would be able to get away with that today. In the film, the announcer said nothing about it. It wasn't just a little improvement. Player essentially dug a trench in the sand behind the ball by just wiping it away.

    As for Nicklaus's view, I remember watching a senior skins game. As they were walking down the fairway Player made some comment about his lie, and Nicklaus clearly muttered something to the effect that the lie didn't matter because Player would improve it anyway. Player didn't rise to the bait and ignored the comment.

  1. [... Gary Player cheated, so they say: Recent conversation on RSG about Gary Player. What started off as a fairly innocent question - "Just how did he win all those majors?" - ...]

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