posted on Apr, 10 2005 @ 11:01 PM
About six hours ago I sat down to watch THE MASTERS. I knew I was going to write about the final round, I knew I was going to take notes along the way
to do so. Here are my notes (bear in mind I watched the whole round, from the Nicklaus tribute through Tiger's green-jacketed fade-out grin):
1) Tiger blows snot.
2) Money ruins competition.
I've been sitting here trying to figure out why it is that six hours of television produced nothing more extensive than this, especially considering
my topic was THE MASTERS, which is A TRADITION UNLIKE ANY OTHER.
Well, for starters, that slogan is ridiculous. Aren't all traditions a little different from each other? You probably dread your relatives' yearly
visits a little differently than I do, etc. That slogan of theirs is one of those Clintonian twists of the English language that seems so meaningful
when you don't think about it.
I mean, I could call my biography "Jack McDonald: A Life Unlike Any Other," and technically, I'm right. None of you went to my high school, then to my
college, worked my job, and dislocated your right shoulder on August 1st, 1995 - but I did, so I'm UNLIKE ANY OTHER. Just like THE MASTERS.
It dawned on me once I'd thought about that slogan that there's nothing much different about the tournament except the media's handling of it. Look at
the final scores - two guys in double digits, another dozen within 10 strokes or so…how is that UNLIKE ANY OTHER tournament? It's considered a major
tournament, sure, and the flowers are much nicer than at, say, Desert Dubai. But in the end it's such a typical weekend - Singh, Mickelson, Woods?
Stop the presses! - that it became clear to me today that the only real difference is in the presentation.
By the way, let me explain my two actual notes more in-depth, very quickly:
1) About the first thing the camera caught Woods doing was blowing snot on the ground on the practice green.
2) Early on, Vijay Singh blew up on the 4th hole or so with a double or triple bogey, and the announcers commented on how he was now out of
contention, and thus likely phoning it in for the remainder. Like this was just fine. And you know what? Singh is a multi-millionaire, so for him,
yeah, it is fine - it makes no difference to him if he finishes 10th, since he still gets to go back to the chateau later on and romp with his
model-wife on a big pile of Ben Franklins. It shows, though, how out of step with normalcy the PGA is that Singh can finish 10th in a major, phone it
in, and no one minds.
One of the reasons no one minds is that they're all much too busy patting each other on the back to pay attention. If Jim Nantz' ego increases any
further between now and next year's MASTERS, he might burst into tears, right on the air, at his own beauty. The man should just go ahead and
copyright the phrase "What a moment", because he's used it every other hole for the past 15 years. I've heard parrots with a wider vocabulary,
but of course that's not the point.
Nantz is to journalism what Tiger is to being African-American; he's there for the same reason as the green jackets, the stilted post-tournament
chairman speeches, and the maudlin annual video tributes to Nicklaus, Palmer, and Jones - to appeal to the upper-crust, self-important, mainly white
audience that still takes interest in professional golf.
Which I am one of, at least on two of those three counts, and that ain't bad. If I had the money, I'd be upper-crust too, or at least I might pretend
well enough. I used to watch "The Love Boat," after all, and the uniforms on Captain Stubing aren't markedly different from those chlorophyll-laden
monstrosities Augusta pushes on its sweaty golfers every April. A review of "The Love Boat" on IMDB.com states that the show "proves the existence of
Satan," which might be overstating things a bit, but not when it comes to THE MASTERS. Any organization who rewards its champions by having sexist
rednecks hand them oddly-colored sport coats is clearly so far out to lunch that it can only be the work of Beelzebub.
And what does it say about me that I give up 75-degree Chicago Sundays every year to sit inside and watch it happen?
That's a question best left for another time, I think. To answer that question would require a level of introspection that you don't find in the
telecasts of THE MASTERS. Did you notice, for example, that we didn't learn that Tiger's Dad is extremely ill until about 45 seconds before the end of
the broadcast? That might've been a good thing to mention at the start of the day, since it would've alerted people that he's got bigger things to
worry about than golf, and made his subsequent victory that much more impressive.
Instead we learned things like the names of Chris DiMarco's children, that David Duval once got heckled at the British Open, and that Mickelson and
Singh got into a tea-time tiff over the length of the former's golf spikes. We were fortunate, though, to see the footage of them shaking hands, about
as warmly as a divorced couple, at the beginning of their round. When asked about it afterward, Mickelson smilingly ripped the reporter for trying to
inflame a minor rules debate into World War III.
Now THAT's where I wanted to hear Jim Nantz say, "WHAT A MOMENT."