Archive for April, 2013

A Nice Day when the Good Guys finished in a Playoff for the Masters

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Enough has already been written on the Tiger Woods incident; taking a drop two yards back from the ball’s original position and admitting to it later in his press conference. The Masters Rules Committee reviewed the incident shortly afterwards but determined nothing was untoward until an eagle-eyed HD TV viewer called Augusta later that evening.

The Rules Committee reviewed the PGA rules of golf once more and belatedly made the correct call in determining Woods had contravened Rule whatever and would be penalized two strokes which inadvertently meant that he had signed an incorrect score card which normally results in disqualification.

The Talking Heads spent most of Saturday morning debating the merits of allowing Tiger Woods to continue in the tournament. That paragon of virtue Sir Nick Faldo and former PGA journey man Branded Chamblee were in favor of disqualification.

However interpretation of the letter of the law (the recently amended PGA Rules of Golf) confirmed a two stroke penalty was sufficient. Nevertheless, Tiger Woods would have finally revealed some class and earned a host of new admirers (me included) if he owned up to his mistake and withdrew himself from the tournament.

Perhaps if he had withdrawn he could have spent his time wisely watching the playoff between Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera and learned what sportsmanship is all about and how to lose graciously without the need to curse, spit or throw clubs.

Scott handled his meltdown at last year’s Open with class and integrity. On this equally demanding stage he believed he had won the Masters with a twenty foot birdie putt on the 18th Green. Playing in the final pairing, Cabrera needed a matching birdie to tie Scott and a place in the playoff.  His approach shot dropped three foot from the hole leaving a simple tap in to tie Scott. Cabrera had endured a roller coaster ride in the back nine of the final round of the Masters. He held the lead by two shots  around the 10th but squandered it away over the next few holes with some indifferent shots.

He steadied the ship with a birdie at the daunting Par 3 16th which ultimately set up his chance for a play-off berth.  The sporting gods were throwing everything at Cabrera during the homeward stretch, but with a few shrugs of those broad shoulders, endearing smiles and fatherly exchanges with his son who was carrying his bag, he appeared to be enjoying every moment.

As the two warriors from the Southern Hemisphere prepared to do battle for the Masters title in fading light and heavy rainfall the CBS talking heads held their own contest on who could come up with the worst cliché. Whispering Jim Nantz kept prattling on about Adam Scott’s destiny to be the first Australian to win the Masters and the whole population of the former penal colony had stayed up to watch the conclusion of the tournament.

Meanwhile Sir Nick was pontificating (no pun intended of course) on the fact that they had recently elected an Argentinian as Pope. And of course there was Lionel Messi. Well he is also Argentinian and arguably the greatest footballer in the world, and I was eating Fray Bentos corn beef five years ago.

Cabrera almost won the damn thing on the first play-off hole with an exquisite chip from the fringe. But my memorable moment of the weekend occurred on the second play-off hole. Both players hit great second shots onto the green, and Cabrera turned to Scott as they were walking down the fairway and give him thumbs up sign for e executing a great shot. Scott reciprocated with a similar gesture in the heat of battle which was a remarkable piece of mutual respect.

Cabrera was desperately unlucky to watch his putt brush the side of the hole. Scott stepped up to his putt and sunk a twenty footer to become the former Penal Colony’s first Masters Champion.  The 43 year old Cabrera with the heart and soul of an ageing lion was magnanimous in defeat and embraced Scott in a bear hug recognizing a great champion.

Footnote dripping with irony: When Tiger Woods was asked to comment on the one shot penalty awarded against the 14 year old boy from China he replied: “Rules are Rules.” But in the eyes of the Augusta Elitists rules are rules depending who you are.


Fantasy Foursome

Friday, April 12th, 2013

It’s Masters Week again. My word, don’t the years flash by in a blink of an eye when you’re having fun?  Anyway, the Masters has given me an idea for my blog which is to nominate three professional golfers I would like in my fantasy foursome.

Before I get to the professionals, I must mention three friends that I would thoroughly enjoy playing in a foursome with. Two live in Wales and the third completing the foursome lives in Atlanta. I’ve played numerous rounds with the three of them, but never as a foursome. They all respect the etiquette of the game. They all enjoy playing relatively quickly which is compulsory to be included in my foursome.

I can’t abide slow play, and weekend hackers who view their putts from all points of the compass should be banned from stepping onto a golf course. My friend Paul is a very good golfer and once played off a +4 handicap, but has the patience of a saint when he is paired with inferior golfers like me.

My ideal time for a round of golf if 3-4 hours which is not always possible, so I need to play with guys who have the same approach to a round of golf. Fortunately, Paul, Rob and Jimmy are all sociable, laid back individuals with a great sense of humor thrown in the mix. Neither do they send out a search party looking for lost balls. We complement each other on good shots and commiserate when an errant hook or slice ends up in the lake. We enjoy each other’s company which is the way it should be.

Playing a round of golf with another guy can reveal a great deal about his character, and as I get older I do not wish to be paired with strangers who could be completely obnoxious. A four or five hour round is a long time to suffer at the hands of a boorish know it all.

Okay, let’s continue onto my fantasy foursome. Before we start fantasizing I wish I could slot my dad into one of these foursomes. I don’t believe he ever stepped onto the hallowed turf of a real golf course, but we played a couple of rounds at Ashleigh Road which was a Par 3 Municipal Course running along Mumbles Road. My dad had 20/20 vision and enjoyed superb hand eye co-ordination. He had no time for course management but could hit the ball a country mile with a 5 iron. Playing a links course like Royal Porthcawl with my dad would have been a fantasy in itself.

Based on my bon hommie conviviality theme, the professional golfers to form my fantasy four would need to be interactive and gregarious. Arnold Palmer falls into the category and so does Sam Snead. They played the game with a smile on their face and a spirit of adventure. They were the cavaliers opposing the driven roundheads in the shape of Nicklaus, Woods, and Faldo. Trevino and Ballesteros classify as cavaliers, but the former was too extrovert and the latter too intense and Latin.

It’s patently obvious now. My dad will complete my fantasy four. Everyone liked him, and it stands to reason Arnie and Sam would too. He could talk to a pauper or a king without skipping a beat. He didn’t have an enemy in the world. Perhaps during a four/five hour round we could get to know each other a litte better than we achieved in real time.