How wonderful that the abiding image for me of the 2013 Masters wil be of Angel Cabrera and Adam Scott walking off the 20th green arm in arm.
Can you imagine my favourite figure of scorn – Mr scowling, spitting, swearing Woods – ever putting his arm round the waist of the man who had just beaten him in a play off? Absolutely not!
After the travesty of the rules debacles that had completely overshadowed the golf, it was so good to have a positive image to end on. Like many, I was incensed that the rules officials chose to dish out their first one-shot penalty for slow play in 17 years to a hapless 14-year-old amateur.
Slow play is a shocking problem – far more apparent if you go to watch tournaments live than watching them on TV where the cameras can just switch to the next piece of action.
Five-hour rounds were frowned upon, which then became five and a half, and escalated to six hours at the Masters. Apparently, that was the pace everyone was playing at, and young Tianlang Guan wasn’t holding anyone up behind him. I was about tosay that bullies always pic on weak targets, but then I looked up the definition of a bully in the Oxford dictionary: “Hired ruffian; blusterer; browbeater; man who lives on prostitute’s earnings…” – so not even I am brave enough to use that phrase any more!
Seasoned professionals, who are notoriously slow, simply bypass the threat of sanctions by speeding up when they are on the clock, and then slow down again immediately after the threat has gone. What would work better would be to have a time keeper with every group for the whole round.
There would be plenty of volunteers for the job at every tournament, so that wouldn’t be a problem providing numbers.
The valiant cuddly knight who wouldn’t have been out of place as Richie Cunningham’s father in ‘Happy Days’ was runner up. The evil prince was defeated. I would also cut the amount of discussion time with caddies down considerably. You know the yardage, you know how far you hit each club, and you know if it’s a one-club, or two club wind, so just get on with it – a bit like the player I love to hate so much when selecting the place to drop his ball for his best advantage. He didn’t waste any time striding back from the dropping zone he didn’t like, to a spot vaguely in the vicinity of where he played his last shot from, plus a few fringe benefits.
Surprisingly, for one who watches every shot or putt of Tiger’s with the accompanying shouts of “get in the water” or “miss it”, I didn’t agree that he should disqualify himself.
The rules officials made their decision, and he followed it. Who wouldn’t? But they should be crucified for not getting it right in the first place. They reviewed the footage, saw that he had dropped the ball incorrectly, and did not intervene to impose the obligatory two-shot penalty there and then. That was the travesty, irrespective of the farcical rule bending that subsequently followed.
But, in the end, the boy who every girl wants to take home to meet her mother won. The valiant cuddly knight who wouldn’t have been out of place as Richie Cunningham’s father in ‘Happy Days’ was runner up. The evil prince was defeated. And the innocent new rising star managed to prevail to make the cut and take the leading amateur honours despite the best attempts of the nasty men in green to thwart him. As fairy tales go, I’d say that was a pretty good ‘they all lived happily ever after’ ending!
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