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Gary Player's captaincy under the spotlight

Criticism of Gary Player's captaincy at last month's Presidents Cup refuses to die. Just when you thought you heard the last word on the matter, Nick Price decides to sound off.

Price, a three-time major champion and former world No. 1, is among the most popular golfers around and not prone to controversy. So when he's upset enough to go public, his words carry plenty of weight.

Price is upset that Player, who was in charge of the International team that lost to the United States, did not offer him the role of assistant captain until the last minute.

"He tried to get hold of me the night before he announced the team," said Price at the Funai Classic at Disney World. "That's not the right thing to do, and then he threw me under the bus in the media, saying 'I've tried to get hold of Nick and he's refused to do it'. He had four or five months to ask me and if he'd asked me earlier I probably would have (accepted)."

Player's search for an assistant turned into a farce, with several others also declining the role before Ian Baker-Finch was offered the position, virtually by default.

Baker-Finch, who was also Player's assistant at the 2003 Presidents Cup, was widely praised for his performance back then, and many insiders believe he should have been Player's first pick this year as well.

Price's criticism comes on the heels of that of Mark Hensby, a member of Player's team who was anything but impressed by the captain's decisions.

Hensby publicly stated that Player was out of touch with the members of the team, did not communicate effectively and made some questionable decisions in his team pairings.

And there was also widespread criticism of Player's decision to take fellow South African Trevor Immelman as one of his two captain's picks, even though Immelman was a lowly 21st on the International standings.

Immelman subsequently compiled a mediocre 1-3 record, adding fuel to the fire.

But at least Player's critics won't have to worry about him returning in 2007, when the International captaincy is expected to go to either Price or Greg Norman. Price has thrown his support behind Norman.

"He's a little older than me and out of respect he should be the next one to be asked," Price said. "I would feel a little uncomfortable if they asked me ahead of him. He put a lot into the Presidents Cup and he's done a lot for international golf."

Norman will be 52 when the 2007 event is played at Royal Montreal in Canada, while Price will be the same age in 2009, when the competition returns to the U.S.

October 25, 2005

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