GARY Player will oppose a claim of $1 million by his former caddie and business partner in South Africa for an unpaid loan, the lawyer representing the golf legend said yesterday.
Former Rangers director Dave King gained an interim court order that potentially allows him to sue 77-year-old Player for assets the nine-times major champion and Hall of Famer holds in South Africa, including shares in a stud farm in the rural town of Colesberg.
King claims he loaned Player the money in 1999. Player denies it was a loan, although his lawyer did not dispute that the transaction took place. Player and King are the shareholders in the stud farm in central South Africa.
“Mr Player denies from his perspective that the funds advanced ever constituted a loan,” Player’s attorney, Rael Gootkin, told The Associated Press.
Court papers suing Player for the $1 million had not yet been filed, Gootkin said, and the parties are looking to agree on a September court date to argue the matter.
Gootkin said Player would oppose the interim order granted this week in a high court in Grahamstown, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, initially giving King jurisdiction to attach the golfer’s local assets to any claim.
Player also would oppose any action to sue for the money “if and when the summons is issued,” Gootkin said.
King is a former director of Rangers, and has caddied for one-time close friend Player at the US Masters.
South African media reported on Tuesday that a document submitted to the court states that the money was given to Player 14 years ago to repay a debt to his sports management company, and Player agreed in return to allow King to travel with him to international sports events.
Scottish-born King has also been involved in a long- running dispute with South African tax authorities. Two years ago, he had his £10 million vineyard, which made wine endorsed by Player, seized by the taxman.
The move was part of an attempt by the South African Revenue Service to claw back an alleged £250m unpaid tax bill from King, who is based in Johannesburg.
King, originally from Castle-milk in Glasgow, arrived in South Africa in 1976 with only £10 in his pocket. But he turned the pittance into a £200m fortune as a high-powered financial consultant.
However, tax officials were puzzled when the tycoon claimed to be earning only £5,000 a year. In 2002, following a two-year probe, they hit him with a bill for back taxes – insisting he was the richest man in the country.