Legendary golfer Gary Player believes government and sport should not mix as the golf world undergoes a major merger that has sparked antitrust concerns.

Speaking to CNBC at the Berenberg Invitational on Monday, the South African golfer said the two were “too intertwined.”

“We need to get governments to stay out of sport. This is absolutely vital,” the 87-year-old Hall of Famer said. “Let sports associations stick to sports and politicians should stick to politics.”

However, the player is no stranger to political involvement in sport. He was an ambassador for Golf Saudi, an organization committed to making the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a more prominent force in sports. Today he is an ambassador for the Saudi energy giant Aramco. He wears his logo on his golf shirts.

Player also said he supports the proposed merger between Saudi-backed LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, which has drawn criticism and scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers, not to mention golfers. (Player previously opposed players leaving the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf, saying it was for “people who can’t win on a regular tour anymore.”)

“If the players get together now, they will have more money to play forever, even though it might not have continued forever,” he said. “The world will benefit when the parties come together.”

Last week, a U.S. Senate subcommittee held its second hearing on the proposed merger. Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the subcommittee’s Democratic chairman, subpoenaed the Saudi Public Investment Fund for information related to the merger and other U.S. investments.

Player also said he is opposed to athletes becoming too political, particularly singling out athletes who do not stand for the national anthem, as well as the political views of the United States women’s national soccer team.

Players for Golf and Charity

Player, who is just one of five players to win all four majors, has won a total of nine majors and has played golf with every president of the United States in the last 70 years, spoke about the game he loves.

He expressed his views on the upcoming Ryder Cup with Marco Simone in Italy.

“I am strongly against the choice of captain,” he said. “Incentives are important. Have a system, you know the leading 12 events…they will represent the United States. That’s how it should be,” Player said.

In 1989, the United States Ryder Cup team introduced the controversial use of “captain’s picks,” in which team captains select who represents the United States. The practice has existed internationally for more than four decades.

The player was in Bedford Hill, New York, for his celebrity golf event, which raises money for pancreatic cancer, from which his wife died in 2021.

“Golf is the biggest catalyst for raising money for charities around the world,” he said.

Source : www.cnbc.com

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