Saturday, 11 April 2009
There were a few final Masters farewells to be made this year. Some teased us with the thought they might make the weekend. Greg Norman, having dunked it in the left front bunker on 12 promptly plonked it in the hole to bring back memories of great times for the great man and evoke images of last years heroics at the Open. It all went pear shaped however when he knocked up and expensive seven on 13 – a hole where others had been making hay all day with eagles galore. Once more he proved a gallant loser at Augusta, no tears from Greg but then Sharks don't cry do they.
Not his final appearance (I hope!) but the big Easy was in trouble again. Ernie with a peach of a shot on 16 gave himself a perfect opportunity to get back to one over yet missed his putt. The body language of Els makes it seem he’s already beaten before he starts. Ernie missed the cut in the last two years, still it was surprising to see him not make it again. I miss Ernie, we need him back – Golf needs Ernie!
Fuzzy Zoeller, produced one of the shots of the day on 16, shying it right at the pin and in the end there were tears not just from him but also from his daughter who was caddying for him this week and clearly enjoyed doing it. He kept the old shades on to hide them and it was a sprightly little run he made up the hill to the scoring hut to hide from the cameras that belied his bellies girth. Great to see.
Gary player walked up the last a damn sight sprightlier than alot of the young uns did, he took his applause like a pro and with a smile on his face. Somehow I’ve always felt a bit sorry for him , with the idolisation of Nicklaus and more especially Arnie Palmer with hi own personal army of fans. In many ways Player was a bigger character and a much more engaging person to listen to. I remember during a recent masters when there was torrential rainstorm and BBC presenter Gary Lineker was hopelessly struggling to fill airtime. Gary Player walked in and just started talking and even creating his own questions to answer - funny, informative, entertaining - I could have listened to his little anecdotes all day. (Note to self, idea for TV programme - Gary Player talks). I contrast that with a golf video I was once made to watch in school when the bus that was supposed to take us to the driving range broke down. Jack Nicklaus was telling a tale of something hilarious that happened to him in a hotel once - we all laughed our ass off, but at him, not with him. Worst story ever.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is, though he may not have received the adulation his peers did, his presence will be more sorely missed than Jack and Arnie will, cause they were great, but not as much fun.
A final thought, he's played the Masters on 52 occasions. It’s a pity he had to three putt the last, but Christ, after 52 years of doing it you’d be bloody knackered and all. 52 weeks, that’s a year of his life, what a year!