INTERVIEW-Golf-Open should bring back phone ban - Player

LYTHAM ST ANNES, England, July 21 Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:03pm BST

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LYTHAM ST ANNES, England, July 21 (Reuters) - Golfing great Gary Player says British Open organisers should ditch their policy of allowing mobile phones on site, which is irritating players and marshals.

Crowds following 14-times major champion Tiger Woods around Lytham on Friday forced the American to back off several shots during his second round, much to the dismay of South African Player.

"It's tough on the marshals. They've got to be detectives as well as direct crowds and keep them quiet?" the nine-times major champion told Reuters on Saturday as the third round began.

"Augusta just say nobody brings a cellphone in and boy, you don't take one in. You just don't see it," he added in reference to the Masters, the year's first major in April.

British Open organisers the Royal & Ancient banned the use of mobile phones on site after Woods won his most recent of three Opens at Hoylake in 2006.

They announced in April that phones would be permitted at the Lancashire links but marshals are having to work double time as they try to stop paying fans photographing their golfing heroes.

"We understand there will be concerns over this change in policy but will be liaising with spectators at the Championship to ensure calls are not taking place near play," R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said earlier this year.

With the growth of smart phones however almost every modern mobile has an inbuilt camera.

Though more discreet than a professional camera there is no denying their inconvenience, Woods's caddie Joe LaCava and hawk-eyed marshals constantly scanning the masses to warn people photography is not allowed.

"You've got to do what they do at the Masters, it's very simple. It's a matter of organisation," said Player, munching on a banana.

The 76-year-old fitness fanatic, nicknamed the 'Black Knight' for his all-black outfits, said players generally learn to deal with cameras but it is not easy.

"Top of your backswing and a guy clicks, the fact that you've heard it means that your mind has been directed to that particular point," the 1974 Lytham champion said.

"It makes it tough."

Player recalled that he too had to back off shots "lots and lots of times" during his prime from his first major win at the British Open in 1959 to his final major, the 1978 Masters.

"When I was practising I had people around me to scream and shout," he said, having moved on to an avocado.

Player did not lament the increasing amount of media that follow players especially at the year's four major championships.

"If you don't have the media, you don't have a tour, and you don't have sponsors.

"I was always lectured as a young man growing up that we had to survive. There wasn't money. So I never turned an interview down," said Player, who has travelled enormous distances throughout his career to promote the sport. (Edited by Alastair Himmer)

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