In his weekly Limerick Leader column Ivan Morris looks back the US Masters
The Masters is an amazing tournament. Year after year, it never fails to provide hot talking points and live up to our great expectations. This year, because of two controversial rulings, it was more like ‘the messters than The Masters’ until exciting things started to happen on the last nine holes.
The lumbering Argentine, Angel Cabrera, playing with great flair and courage had the green jacket ripped off his broad shoulders at the second play-off hole leaving everyone watching breathless with excitement.
It was a case of the Golf Gods giving and taking away. Nobody can deny Adam Scott (and Australia) this hard earned victory. Angel Cabrera didn’t lose. They just didn’t give him the green jacket when it was over. Scott has always been a beautifully balanced, stylish golfer – apart from the awful yoke he putts with. He proved himself a ‘good loser’ and well deserves to win a major, having been so close on several occasions previously.
Tiger was extremely unlucky to bounce off the flagstick into the water on Friday but that’s golf and you have to find a way to rise above these setbacks. The Golf Gods seem to be continuing to punish him for his infamous ‘transgressions.’ Another major win for him cannot be far away. The Gods weren’t kind to the magnificent ball striking of Westwood and Rose, either. There were also outstanding performances by the 14-y-o, Lianglang Guan and 23-y-o Thorbjorn Olesen - two future champions in the making, surely?
To DQ Tiger for an illegal drop during the second round would have been harsh, I know, but as he often says himself: rules are rules. Because he willingly broke a rule that he clearly misunderstood at the time (his mind scrambled by the ricocheting), he should have been disqualified. It was as bad a break as ever I saw and one with which it was easy to feel sympathy but that’s not the point.
The committee decision to penalize the player 2-stokes and allow him to carry on seemed equitable but, again, that is not the point. On countless occasions in the past, golfers have been DQ’d for signing incorrect scorecards. It happened to Padraig Harrington twice when he was leading tournaments. Ignorance or inadvertence is no excuse. It all boils down to the facts that Harrington did not know that his ball had moved but Tiger should have known here to drop.
By not withdrawing, Tiger missed a golden opportunity to rehabilitate himself with those amongst the golfing public who dislike him.
How a 14-years old was picked out to be the first player penalized for slow play in a major for over 30-years was most unsatisfactory. It could be construed as bullying by a Professional Rules Official. But, young “Langley’ rose like an eagle above the controversy. He went on to play 72-holes of golf on a devilish golf course without scoring a single double bogey. Most golfers I know are pleased to manage 18-holes without one double bogey! The British Amateur champ, Alan Dunbar, was 16-over for 36-holes, Guan was 12-over for 72-holes – astonishing.
Pros do not like amateurs playing in ‘their’ tournaments. Often, they do their best to make the amateur feel uncomfortable and unwanted. Guan showed remarkable composure and emerged with flying colours. All that talk about China being the future of the game may yet come true.
Rory McIlroy hasn’t yet figured out that Augusta is the most tempting, risk and reward course in the world. You can play safe or take chances but if you do not land the ball on the perfect spot, you will create severe problems for yourself. Rory’s Augusta course-management skills leave a lot to be desired. He needs to improve that aspect of his play before he ever dons the green jacket.
The Augusta National Golf Club is a Law unto itself. Note their treatment of black people and women through the years. Once you enter that property, you become a hostage. The rules of behavior are strict. If you transgress - you could be ejected in an instant for stepping inside the ropes, sending an SMS, or less.
You are not allowed to carry an offensive weapon like an umbrella – consequently, all umbrellas are purchased on site and have the Masters logo. The ruling that ‘saved’ Tiger probably would not have been applied anywhere else. The Masters has huge clout. I am disappointed that some leadership wasn’t given about the issues that are hurting golf – equipment and slow play. They picked on a 14-y-o when several players, notably Jason Day, were just as slow moving.
Nevertheless, The Masters Tournament always puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step. It’s fascinating TV viewing and never to be missed! Apart from the thrilling, first day when 45 players were under par, the best players in the world largely appeared as if they were playing a nerve-wrecking game of snakes and ladders on grass.
The course was set up in a farcical way in some instances - not what Bobby Jones would have had in mind when he founded the event in 1934, surely?