Friday, April 4, 2008

No Monty at the Masters

What does Prayad Marksaeng, Liang Wen-hong and Jeeve Milka Singh have in common other than names that short circuit spell check? They’re ranked lower in the world rankings than Colin Montgomerie, but unlike Monty, they’ve been invited to play in the Masters.

This just in and I know you’re shocked, Monty is not a happy camper and maybe he has a legitimate gripe this time. As the sullen Scot pointed out, the invitations were issued to protect the worldwide television rights Augusta National receives, i.e. Marksaeng—Thailand, Wen-hong—China and Singh—India. This not the first time Monty has been passed by. A few years ago, he was bumped in favor of Japan’s Shingo Katayama for basically the same reason.

“Now if I were the only person in the country, a la China, I might get in,” says Monty. “It is a strange way to make up a field for a major championship—television rights. They are quite open why. It would be easier to swallow if no one was invited and it was done on sporting and not commercial criteria.”

He’s correct of course, with the minor exception that the Masters is the only major that is not a championship. It’s just the Masters. Let’s face it, Augusta National is a club comprised of businessmen—make that very successful businessmen. They look at the Masters as a business with all the benevolence of Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s their party and if you can’t do them any good, you don’t get an invitation. Is it fair? Hell no. Is it the way it is? It is what it is.

The pity is that by stating the obvious, Monty will learn that the hoi and polloi at Augusta National will do all they can to see that Monty never darkens their door again. Sometimes truth does have its consequences.

You’ve got to love 72-year old Edwin Harman of Orpington, Kent, England. Eddie was in mid-putt on a golf buddy trip to Portugal when his phone rang. It was the Mrs. informing Eddie that a Cessna had crashed into their 450,000 pound house and destroyed it.

Did Eddie jump in his cart, catch a ride to the airport and go flying home to his distraught wife? Of course not. Eddie not only finished that round, he also stayed and played the next day as well.

“I’m told there’s not much left,” Eddie was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail, “but I’m trying not to let it spoil my holiday. I’m sure my wife will look after things until I return.”

Eddie was implored by his home owner’s insurance company to return immediately to go through the rubble. Eddie said, “not so fast. I have to finish my holiday. I’ll return immediately after it’s completed.”

Fortunately, the Mrs. wasn’t home when the crash occurred. She was herself returning from her own holiday. Unfortunately, the five people in the plane were killed which leads me to wonder why listed the story in their “Lighter Side of Golf” section.

What golfer not named Tiger Woods has a chance to win the Masters? Probably no one, but if you’re determined to look for one, don’t look for another Zack Johnson - type to win the green jacket. Going by pedigree, Phil Mickelson is the next favorite. Don’t dismiss Retief Goosen. His game is finally coming back. Jim Furyk has a chance, but the course setup might be a bit long for him. Advance weather forecasts call for the usual rain interruptions that will lengthen the course even more.

The sentimental favorite is Ernie Els, who has come oh so close in the past. Like Greg Norman before him, it seems that the big South African should be destined to win at Augusta National. Unfortunately, he’s getting closer to being this generation’s Norman. It’s a mantle he’s got to shed. It just seems to me that even with the two U.S. Open championships and one British Open championship, his resume won’t be complete without a Masters to his credit.

Bartender, pour glasses of Merlot for both Messrs. Els and Norman from their own vineyards if you please. Also could you bring some cheddar for Monty—you know the one that goes so well with his whine. While you’re at it pour a spot of tea for Eddie, before he got home, the fire went out and he couldn’t heat the pot. Don’t worry about him. He can survive on the heavy helpings of cold shoulder and hot tongue the Mrs. is serving these days.

See you on the first tee,


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