Gary Player blasts critics of Tiger Woods’ workout regimen

USA TODAY Sports

Gary Player says anyone claiming Tiger Woods overdoes it in the gym is full of um, stuff. Golf’s original Mr. Fitness also shares his workout secret to out-distancing Jack Nicklaus during the Masters ceremonial first drive.

Tiger Woods may have made it fashionable for the current generation of PGA Tour pros to hit the gym and lose the beer bellies, but before Tiger, there was Gary Player.

Player, a three-time Masters champion, has made it his calling to urge people worldwide to hoist themselves off their couches and onto golf courses or otherwise get the lead out. So when the Black Knight tells critics of Woods’ workout mania they’re full of crap, perhaps someone will take heed.

"Obviously, people that are saying [that Woods works out too much] have no conception what they’re talking about," Player said Wednesday on Golf Channel on the eve of the first Masters Woods, recovering from spinal surgery, will miss since 1994.

Before Woods went under the knife late last month, it was clear his back was causing him extreme pain and throwing his golf game off-kilter, and the naysayers were in full whine about how Tiger did himself in by pumping too much iron.

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To which Mr. Fitness, who posed for ESPN’s Body Issue at the age of 77, responded: BS.

"The greatest technology in the future is going to be eating, how athletes eat," said Player, who recalled coming under fire for his own vigorous routine that he began in the 1950s and credited with his ability to win tournaments into his 60s.

"The night before I won the [career] Grand Slam [in 1965]," Player said, "I was exercising profusely, struggling with 325 pounds on a Saturday night, and everybody said, ‘You can’t do that and then play golf. You’re finished, you’ll never have a long career.’

Getting past Tiger

"Well," Player stated, "I won a tournament at 63, so anybody who says that Tiger’s working out too hard talks absolute nonsense."

Player, by the way, appeared on ESPN Radio’s "Mike and MIke" earlier in the day to rip Woods’ ex-coach, Hank Haney, for claiming to teach Tiger Ben Hogan techniques that Hogan never used, offer his services as amateur psychologist to Tiger ("there are certain things mentally he’s doing wrong"), and challenge Jack Nicklaus to outdrive him on Thursday’s ceremonial first tee.

"I've outdriven Jack twice [and] I want to do it a third time," Player said on the talk show, according to Luke Kerr-Dineen. "I'm going to be a little keyed up. In fact, when I went to the gym this morning I did an extra 200 sit-ups to make sure I outdrive him."

Hank, Brandel Chamblee, anybody else got a problem with that? Take it up with the Black Knight.

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