‘Never mind the Masters’: Gary Player says this major, not Augusta, is the best

Gary Player of South Africa waves to the crowd on the first during the Celebration of Champions prior to The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course on July 11, 2022 in St Andrews, Scotland.

Gary Player at the 150th Open Championship.

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Gary Player may have won three green jackets, the fourth most of all-time, but that doesn’t mean the Masters is his favorite golf tournament.

Heck, the annual stroll down Magnolia Lane doesn’t even make his top 3! Tough crowd!

While reminiscing on his final Masters win in 1978 — the one where he shot 64 in the final round to come from seven strokes behind and win — to the UK Daily Mail, Player finished it with an unexpected take.

“But, never mind the Masters, the Open is by far the greatest tournament on the planet,” he told the Daily Mail before pausing. “I rate the Open at one, the U.S. Open two, PGA three and Augusta four; Four marvelous tournaments.”

The Open at No. 1 shouldn’t be much of a surprise as Player is known as golf’s global ambassador. He won more than 150 tournaments around the world, including three Open Championships, the only major contested outside the United States.

Putting the U.S. Open second is perhaps more surprising given he’s only won that major once, in 1965 to complete his career Grand Slam. However, Player has a quantitative reason for his ranking.

WATCH: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson hit ceremonial opening tee shots at the Masters
By: Zephyr Melton

“[The Masters is] the youngest of the majors,” he said. “The others are steeped in tradition and history and they still have to catch up. Nothing comes to the top without time.”

It’s hard to argue the Masters isn’t “steeped in tradition and history” though. After all, Player takes part, along with Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, in the opening tee shot of the tournament, serving as an honorary starter since 2012. The tagline for the week on CBS is always “A *tradition* unlike any other.”

Not everything has been Azeleas and Yellow Jasmine for Player with the tournament over the year. More recently, Player’s son Wayne was arrested over an incident involving a house rental at the 2018 Masters. Two years ago, Wayne was removed and banned from the tournament after he displayed a branded sleeve of golf balls during the honorary starters ceremony.

Hot takes are par for the course from Player too. Just last December, he sounded off to GOLF’s Alan Bastable on why the rule allowing the flagstick to be left in the cup while putting is the “worst rule ever invented.” In August, he blasted the last round of LIV Golf signees, including Cam Smith, saying they “don’t have the confidence they can be winners.”

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