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Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

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    Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

    As if there weren't enough stories already written about this year's Masters - about Tiger's major comeback, about Rory McIlroy's Masters debut, about the course being shortened , surely two of the biggest will be the certain last appearances of two former world number ones, Gary Player and Greg Norman.

    Three-time Masters champion Player has decided to stop entering after this year, finally admitting to himself that, aged 73, he is now unlikely to ever overhaul Jack Nicklaus's record of 6 titles. There had been some money on Player becoming the first golfer ever to shoot his age at a Major championship (he shot a 78 last year) but he's obviously decided he can't wait another 5 years just for that.

    Player is able to keep coming back because of the quirk in the Masters rules that allows former champions to come back as often as they want, with no restriction, reflecting Bobby Jones' belief that a champion could never lose the ability to prove himself a champion again. This makes it all the more poignant that it will also, almost certainly, be Greg Norman's last Masters as well. The Great White Shark is certainly the most famous runner-up in Masters history - he was leading season-long money-winner 5 times in the USA, but finished second three times in its most prestigious event (each time in fairly heartbreaking fashion) and third a further three times, without ever winning. He even holds the course record (and, for good measure, shares the second-best all-time score). But he never won, so now, at 54, is unlikely to qualify for the Masters again (apart from former champions, the only other guaranteed starting places are for golfers in the World's top 50, and high finishers in Open events and winners of some other significant professional and amateur events over the previous twelve months). Norman's place in this one comes after his surprise third place finish at last year's Open; a surprise because of his age, not because it resulted in yet another Norman near-miss.

    It's hard to feel too sorry for Norman. He made (and continues to make) hundreds of millions out of the game, is married to Chrissie Evert and owns a yacht as large (and employing as many people) as some Pacific Island states. His genuine appetite for victory was always as questionable as his talent was unquestionable. But he is one of those sportsmen who can honestly answer the question "would you change it all just for ...?". In his case, the "for" would be a Green Jacket, and membership of the exclusive club that he will, after this weekend, be denied except as a spectator or commentator.

    #2
    Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

    Tim Clark (who's finished second here before) has the early clubhouse lead with a 68, but you-know-who's about to tee off.

    And wouldn't you know it, Norman's 1 under as well through 12. Surely - surely - he can't finally win this fucking thing aged 54?

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      #3
      Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

      Porridge is 3 under, too, through 13. Is the "Paddy Slam" on?

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        #4
        Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

        The absence of the 'Augusta Roar' last year obviously forced the organisers to return to a layout more conducive to birdies. A Sunday slog on the back nine like last year will not materialise this year.

        I backed Tim Clark to win at 119/1 on Betfair. I usually back a South African golfer at the Masters as they usually do quite well (missed out on Immelman last year though), and it appears that I picked the right one with Els, Goosen and the aforementioned Immelman all struggling.

        One of the many interesting stats that appeared on the screen was that Tiger Woods has not broken par on his opening round at the Masters since 2002. Even allowing for the course's easy playing, Tiger's current score of -1 with a few holes to play represents a decent opening round. His price to win is currently 11/4, which is pretty much the same as this morning. The players at -7, -6 & -5 won't threaten the leaderboard come Sunday evening, Furyk apart, although the gang at -4 & -3 contains a number of potential winners in Weir, Cabrera, Johnson & Harrington. If Tiger stays in touch with these guys going into Saturday, I think he'll win.

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          #5
          Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

          "Campbell leads Masters", shout the headlines. Woo hoo! Go Kiwi!

          Oh, hang on ...

          Now that's just cruel.

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            #6
            Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

            Fuzzy Zoeller bows out as well. Maybe not as many testimonies

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              #7
              Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

              Where are the birds?

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                #8
                Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                Gary Player was an apartheid apologist. Fuck him.

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                  #9
                  Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                  Bored of All the Beasts wrote:
                  Fuzzy Zoeller bows out as well. Maybe not as many testimonies
                  Zoeller's extremely tasteless "fried chicken" gag at Woods' expense a few years ago might be a reason for that. Even the arch conservatives of the Augusta committee were embarrassed by that.

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                    #10
                    Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                    G-man - his record is not at all spotless, but from what i know that's a bit harsh. From his wiki;

                    He was branded a "traitor" by South African Nationalist Government supporters for inviting and bringing both black tennis pro Arthur Ashe and golfer Lee Elder to play in South Africa. He was the first golfer to call on mandatory drug testing on all tours around the world.

                    In 1966, Player was quoted in a book entitled Grand Slam Golf in which he wrote:

                    I am of the South Africa of Verwoerd...a nation which is the result of an African graft on European stock and which is the product of its instinct and ability to maintain civilized values and standards amongst the aliens.

                    Player has apologized profusely about this statement, saying he was a young man who never proof read the book's manuscript prior to going to print and that the quote was never made by him but rather the writer of the book." It is believed that Player's attitude towards the apartheid regime is very different today and has so far raised over 100 million dollars through his foundation to support under-privileged education in South Africa during apartheid.

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                      #11
                      Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                      Heh, Gary Player was an apartheid apologist in the same way that Nelson Mandela advocated putting bombs in shopping malls.

                      FFS.

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                        #12
                        Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                        I mean, there's a case to be made for the Gunter (!) Grass thing of never allowing infractions to be effaced from memory. But the infraction, while genuine, seems to have been extremely small, and to have been very substantially expiated.

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                          #13
                          Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                          I've got a copy of "Grand Slam Golf" in my study, I'll dig it out later and have a look at the (extended) passage.

                          I'm watching "Finding Nemo" at the moment, though.

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                            #14
                            Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                            I've never researched Player's attitude to apartheid, the critical comments pre-date me, which says something for the mans longevity but it would astonish me if he held positive views towards apartheid for anytime at all into adulthood if indeed he held them as a youth.

                            However, as a sportsman I have huge admiration for him, he was a pioneer and had to prove himself in foreign lands, his iron will and dedication are legendary, he still looks in remarkably good shape and apparently has the same waste measurement that he had 50 years ago. He is one of only 5 golfers ever to win all the majors and his oft quoted remark about it being funny that the more he practises the luckier he gets show a dedication to his sport that few others seem to match.

                            I can't imagine him being the kind of guy who has planned a quiet retirement.

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                              #15
                              Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                              Barring a Van de Velde type collapse from both of the top two tomorrow, this is turning into a Masters where Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry will go head-to-head tomorrow for the title (with maybe Angel Cabrera chipping away at them).

                              Not really the championship anyone was hoping for (the Tiger comeback, the Paddy Slam, the Sergio moment, any of it).

                              Ah well, so goes major championship golf. George Archer, Charles Coody and Tommy Aaron won this three years out of four in the early 70s, and were then followed by Nicklaus, Player, Nicklaus, Floyd, Watson, and Player again.

                              Maybe sometimes a great championship has to go through a "fallow" period, as this one certainly will have with successive champions like Johnson, Immelman and either Campbell or Perry, to remind everyone why it's such a big thing to win when a great champion picks it up again.

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                                #16
                                Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                                Er, did he just say "it ain't over yet Sambo"?

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                                  #17
                                  Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                                  Alliss's co-commentator is Sam Torrance. But I've never heard anyone else refer to him as "Sambo".

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                                    #18
                                    Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                                    This is getting very exciting. Mickleson now within 1, Woods within 4 as they start the back nine.

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                                      #19
                                      Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                                      Mickelson underhits a tee shot to the 12, and it rolls back into the water... the 'safety zone' (which I think means is where you drop to) is about 65 yards away from the hole. He drops 2 shots.

                                      Peter Allis has just called a Cabrera shot, a 'J Arthur'... I wonder if he thinks it means 'shank'?

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                                        #20
                                        Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                                        I'm hoping that's what he meant.

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                                          #21
                                          Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                                          Sudden death.

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                                            #22
                                            Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                                            amazing day of golf, though i expect rogin thinks it is dull

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                                              #23
                                              Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                                              Well I'm enjoying it, even as the only non-golfer from Northern Ireland.

                                              McIlroy Shmuck-ilroy: the sand-kicking boy wonder loses out to mid-Atlantic McDowell as the top Ultonian, indeed top European.

                                              Bad light in the equation. I love this, it's just like cricket.

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                                                #24
                                                Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                                                Well, dull it surely wasn't, in the end, and well done most of all to the authorities at Augusta for setting up the course the way they used to, to allow the best players a chance of low scoring while giving everyone unfamiliar at the top of the leaderboard a real chance to mess up under pressure.

                                                At one stage it looked as if Mickelson and Woods were both going to pull off a Norman-style final round 64, before they uncharacteristically started missing shots (Mickeslon's putting went to hell in the last 3 holes, and so did Tiger's driving).

                                                After his birdie on 16, it looked as though Kenny Perry was going to ease to the two pars he needed and the triumphal walk up the last, which would have provided the more anticlimatic finale I'd been anticipating, and I have to feel some sympathy for the way he lost it - his approach shot to 17 really deflated him, and he hardly hit a good shot again after that. As for Cabrera, what can you say? He never looked likely to be champion until Perry had hit his approach way left on the second playoff hole - certainly not while Cabrera himself was clattering every tree up the right of the first playoff hole - yet in the end he was the one in the Butler Cabin. His win reminded me a great deal of Fuzzy Zeoller's, 30 years ago - Fuzzy, similarly, never led on his own during the final day and was two behind a man who had led all day long with two to play, only to bogey the last two and then lose the playoff at the second. That man was Ed Sneed, whose ultimate defeat is still remembered as one of the Masters' great chokes. I hope history is kinder to Perry.

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                                                  #25
                                                  Farewell, then, Black Knight and White Shark

                                                  I thought last night was excellent for both the golf and the drama.

                                                  But a special mention to Kenny Perry, who was brilliantly gracious, not only for the applause and the high five to Cabrera on the final green, but in the after playoff comments, when he was utterly magnanimous about losing, and I think at one point called himself an 'average' player.

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