Sport Golf

Sunday 11 December 2016

Gary Player's Augusta antics were pathetic

Published 18/04/2015 | 02:30

Even though Jordan Spieth’s surgicaldominance gave it all the tumult of a Sunday fourball this year, he still had to navigate his way through the perils of Amen Corner before you felt they would be looking up his jacket size in the Butler Cabin (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Even though Jordan Spieth’s surgicaldominance gave it all the tumult of a Sunday fourball this year, he still had to navigate his way through the perils of Amen Corner before you felt they would be looking up his jacket size in the Butler Cabin (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

It's 22 years since I covered the US Masters but, in many ways, that passing of time has left little imprint on Augusta National.

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The event still offers a great paradox of impressions. It remains almost untouchable as a TV spectacle given the world's familiarity with golf holes that, at once, seduce and terrify those challenging for the title.

Even though Jordan Spieth's dominance gave it all the tumult of a Sunday fourball this year, he still had to navigate his way through the perils of Amen Corner before you felt they would be looking up his jacket size in the Butler Cabin.

But little things still jar as slightly unctuous remnants of the past, not least the insistence on referring to spectators as "patrons". Augusta's self-importance in such matters seems slightly stupid now, given its stand-alone status on the golf calendar.

One of the tournament's nicer touches has been its tradition of opening with a ceremonial drive from some greats of the game. The public will never tire of seeing men like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus hit a golf ball, even if they now only do so with the aplomb of medium handicap golfers.

This year, Palmer and Nicklaus were joined by Gary Player, which would have been fine if the South African's vanity could have been suspended for the moment. But Player seems determined to broadcast his fitness to the world, engaging in a series of antics designed to illustrate his flexibility.

It was all rather pathetic to behold, an old man looking to distance himself from his unamused contemporaries.

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