THE MASTERS EXPERIENCE

If the last few days haven’t proved I’m in the right business, I don’t what has.

From 1pm on Thursday afternoon until gone midnight on Sunday, I have been watching golf, looking at leaderboards, reading reports, suffocating myself in the Masters experience. At the same time, I have squeezed in a trip to Liverpool, and managed to commentate on a Premier League and an Eredivisie football match, neither of which reached the drama of Augusta National.

The Masters is a unique experience for the viewer as far as majors or big golf tournaments is concerned. At last year’s Open, I was actually on air for 14 hours on the day Tom Watson bowed out in the moonlight. But for the powers that be at the Masters, the theme is less is more.

It’s tough to know where to stand on this. Of course, I would like to watch wall to wall coverage of an event like this and following that shot tracker is addictive and frustrating at the same time. But maybe they have got it right. Maybe, another element that makes the Masters so special is that the tv coverage is limited.

Of course, at the weekend in the UK we get a choice… Sky and the BBC, albeit limited by the pictures they are offered. I watched the Sky coverage, knowing what I would get. Knowing the production values would be as good as they can be and of course, I get to listen to my colleagues doing their best. I missed a trick really. I should have delved into the BBC coverage for 10 minutes at least, just to catch some Peter Allis. I don’t know when he will decide to retire but growing up and watching golf in the late 70s and 80s, he was the voice. And he still knows how to deliver a line in that soothing tone.

As for the action, I will try and be succinct. Danny Willett. What a performance. I don’t think I have ever spoken a word to Danny but it’s interesting to hear what others say about his personality. When he’s at the course, he’s not that sociable with his peers, likes to keep himself to himself. Almost Faldo-esque in some ways. Maybe that’s why he was able to show such ruthlessness when the opportunity came his way. I’m not surprised he’s a major winner but maybe a little surprised it came so quickly.

By finishing 2nd, Lee Westwood has now done enough to play in his 10th Ryder Cup. I think he only needed to show Darren Clarke glimpses of form to get a pick. Even if he doesn’t get enough points to make the team automatically, a runner up in 1 of the year’s majors, coupled with his 100% record at the Eurasia Cup on top of his brilliant Ryder Cup record… he’s nailed on and deservedly so.

Well done to the trio from the Asian Tour with Jaidee, Lahiri and Aphibarnrat all making the cut. Kiradech. in particular, on his Masters debut showed he will be a danger at Augusta in years to come.

Jordan Spieth is an interesting one. He’s a fascinating watch. He needs to speed up his play for sure. But what a player, particularly on the greens. His ability to bounce back when he looks on the ropes is incredible. On Saturday night, he was hanging in with his game all over the place before that late fall. But he still came out on Sunday and went out in 32. Yes, he will be remembered for that 7 on the 12th. Even after that horror show, he birdied 2 of the next 3 and should have got another at 16. You wouldn’t want to bet against me that he wins another 3 Green Jackets, would you?

And watch out for the knock on effect of this win. Just as Seve inspired a European glut at the majors, as did Harrington years later, I think Willett’s win will be inspirational for Chris Wood, Matt Fitzpatrick and others. If they needed convincing they had the game to win a major, watching one of their peers pull it off in that manner will be a huge mental boost.

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