By Larry Canning
FOR some reason, I couldn’t help but notice the spectators, sorry “Patrons”, at Augusta this year. I don’t know how many of them attend the Masters each April but every single one was dressed magnificently. Well, compared to the regular Aussie golf fan who is much more comfortable in jeans with holes in them, singlets and shorts which miraculously fall down to the thigh and suddenly stop there. Ever noticed how little money is spent on pants, T-shirts and thongs these days but the jocks always seem to be Calvin bloody Klein.
And the caddies – they all look like they should be working in the pits at Monaco or walking out of a laboratory holding a clip board. I remember when I played in an Australian Open when the caddies all had to wear red overalls. Mine was my old mate The Mighty Wrighty who had bought all new gear in an attempt to be the best dressed caddy in the Championship. He was devastated when officials ushered him into the caddy change room and insisted he throw on the appropriate garb. It got worse when it hosed down with rain just before we hit off and the red die did its best to permanently change the colour of Wrighty’s white Lacoste shirt.
I always expect the fairways at Augusta to be perfectly green and for the azaleas to be blooming but this year I was fascinated with the whiteness of the bunkers. The ground staff clearly remove all the sand each night, run it through a tub full of White King and whack it back into the traps before first hit off.
I also couldn’t believe Jason Day’s new look. Apparently he and a bunch of other Nike Tour staff including Michelle Wie, Rory, the old fella himself, Woodsy, filmed some new ads last week and Jace shaved off his beard. The big guy looked that much younger it was unbelievable. I was waiting to turn on the TV and see his trusty caddy, Col Swatton, leading Jason down the fairway on one of those kiddie leashes.
I don’t think I’ve seen that many flag sticks getting belted during one tournament either. Is there a bigger injustice in any sport than hitting a perfect golf shot which smacks into the very thing you’re aiming at and deflects clean off the green. Rory did it on the 18th on Friday just when he was forging his way back into contention. It cost him 2 shots and he never really threatened after that. The commentators thought otherwise but I’m sure Sergio tapped the pin with his second shot on the 15th. With the speed and angle of that green he was lucky to stay out of the water which in the past is exactly what would have happened to the game’s unluckiest player.
Despite this, I thought it was a little extreme when Lefty Mickelson had his caddy “Bones” walk some 80 metres up the green and attend the flag for him. After Mickelson played his shot, the poor bloke had to run back over the bridge, replace Phil’s divot then pick up the bag and catch up to his boss again. He probably had to read his putt as well.
Maybe I should have made Wrighty do the same back in that Australian Open. He probably would have agreed to do it but I suspect that flag would have been inserted back into a different hole before we left the green.
Lastly I saw the golfing god “Srixomus” finally bestow one of the best players in the game a well-deserved Major Championship. It’s hard to believe it was 18 years ago when a fresh face Spaniard burst onto the Major Golf Scene and all but stole the US PGA Championship from another talented player named Tiger.
I don’t think anyone else will wear that Green Jacket with more pride than Sergio especially given it was done on what would have been Seve Ballesteros’s 60th birthday. And I don’t think his major victories will stop there either. He’s still only 37 years old and from memory, the closest Serg has come to any kind of serious injury was when he avoided a mauling from the Shark after he broke it off with his daughter.