All right, finally. It’s 12:40 and live coverage of the Masters comes on in twenty minutes. I’ve been following the results on the Golf Channel. I say “results” because the Augusta folks absolutely ban any television bits of action, even if it’s only taped. So I listen while Notah Begay and others discuss the biggest news, that Tom Watson is leading at minus five. Unheard of, a sixty-year-old upstart, shooting a round that low. For at least a month now I’ve read what golf people were saying about the new Augusta National’s layout, the added distance, bigger sand bunkers. “Ooo ooo,” they kept saying, “it’s too long, too tough.” Well, from the looks of the leader board, it’s sort of a pussy cat: some twenty or thirty players under par with four in a tie with Watson with 67’s. Tiger and Matt Kuchar and K. J. Choi are in the next to last group, with all three of them under par through the first seven holes.
All right, now it’s time to talk about all the people who have chewed Tiger out in print or in televised interviews (not to his face) about his not treating the game with a proper respect, mouthing a few no-no’s at the viewing public, even an occasional f-bomb, tossing a few clubs back to Stevie with a disrespectful amount of enthusiasm. Tom Watson and others of the oldsters kept saying he’s got to change his attitude, curb his anger, stop the invective. It’s only in the last fifteen or so years that television has been miking players, right there in their faces with telescopic zoom shots, looking up their noses, ready to pounce visually on every misstep or misword. I defy any of these oldsters who were not miked or were never victims of tv’s barrage of close-ups to tell me they never cursed on the course, never hurled really disrespectful words at their ball or the course, never dropped a club with more force than necessary. I remember a classic involving Curtis Strange about twenty years ago at a course in Florida. He had just hit one or two shots into swampy stuff and apparently forgot he was wearing a mike. I remember watching him stomp after his shot, muttering very clearly, “F_ _ _ this M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ing course!” Now that was really disrespectful, but I’ve never heard anyone mention it. And Tommy Bolt in the old days got a much deserved nickname of Thunder Bolt, for wrapping more than one set of clubs around more than one tree.
All right, finally, it’s 1:00 and live coverage can begin. Go get ‘em, Tiger.