Due to the downward turn in the earnings of freelance golf writer/caddy/Masters Party host, this years event was not held at my abode. Serious cost cutting measures required me to cancel my cable subscription months ago. Don’t cry for me Argentina.
Lucky for us, our man Jim, a math doctoral student, stepped up and hosted. Yeah, these math doctoral candidates have a way of being there when you need them.
He lives in a lovely apartment overlooking Main Street, Middletown, Conn. The previous tenant was a genuine Buddhist Monk and I—I can’t speak for the others—felt closer to enlightenment upon entering the second-floor dwelling.
Most of cast of characters in attendance were familiar. There was the the Knight. Oh yeah, a real knight—in Sweden—not some guy who claims to be a knight. The real deal. Sir knocked back Narragansett 16-ounce cans from his prime seat on the couch.
The Lawyer: He began the day by summing out how the Masters for one Gerry (pronounced Gary) Lester “Bubba” Watson, Jr. would end.
“They’ll be tears whether he wins or not.”
Good call. The Lawyer was in the loge section quaffing fine ales.
The Disgruntled State Worker: If the heavens ever smile on you and you are lucky enough to attend this event, he’s the guy you want to sit next to. A stream of mutterings can he heard throughout. When DSW does decide to raise his voice, it’s usually a gem of a comment. A Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA was never far from his lips, neither was a snide remark.
The New Guy: A Friend of James. One of those math people. Sat in the back attempting to make peace with a serious hangover. Drank Miller Lite when some sort of understanding was reached. For downing such crap he might not be invited next year. The board has to meet and discuss.
The Lone Female: She arrived late, drank Golf Tequila (more on that in a moment) the Knight’s beer and departed, she said, to extricate relatives from a bereavement of some sort. I guess that explains the black dress and molten lava red hair.
Not sure what James was drinking. If he was smart host, he was pilfering the brews of others, except the Miller Lite. I opted for a medley of two Cisco brewers offerings, including the lovely Whale’s Tale, as well as a Founders All Day IPA Session Ale.
Sushi, Beer and Golf Tequila: The co-stars of the day, holding second billing to the idiotic comments flowing freely from the television set. We chip in on the sushi and the golf tequila was a gift to me, Anthony Allen Pioppi, (not a PhD) courtesy of the PGA Tour’s Mayakoba Golf Classic. It’s now a three-year Masters Party tradition. Everyone does a shot. No excuses.
Now, I have to admit with no Eldrick Woods in this year’s tournament, I was apprehensive about how much dumb stuff would be uttered by our faithful commentators. My concerns were for naught.
Nick Faldo, early in the broadcast: “The course is firm but the grass is green and lush so the balls don’t bounce.”
Green grass can have that effect. It’s true. Some turf people told me that.
The house was brought down for the first time by David Feherty when he said, “That is one very big scoreboard!”
First of all, it’s the same scoreboard that’s been in use for years. It wasn’t just what Fehery said, but how he said it… with enthusiasm.
We also had reports from the outlying precincts, via email, of this beauty. (We can’t be expected to hear everything.)
“Damage from the ice storm as allowed the winds to blow in different directions.” Thank you Peter Kostis.
So before, did the wind blow in the same direction? Or were the trees so galldarn big they prevented certain winds from reaching the golf course?
We were told that to win at Augusta National Golf Club, it’s all about distance control. Announcers made it sound like it’s the only layout on the planet where that is true. Everywhere else? Man, just hit it as far as you want, when you want. Forty yards over greens at Shinnecock Hills, not a problem.
We loved it when Jim Nantz, going through the list of best European finishers in the Masters, referred to Peter Hanson as “The Swede.”
No one else was singled out like that. The Knight in our midst was not impressed. We did wonder that when Jonas Blixt, also from Sweden, was mentioned why he was never called the Swede. I wonder if he feels slighted?
(As is usually the case, we received non-golf enlightenment during the day. It was the Knight who informed us that for centuries the Swedish alphabet did not include the letter X. I don’t know if that’s true or if it was the Gansett talking.)
Soon we learned that 13 of the last 21 winners of the green jacket made birdie on the second hole in the final round. Disgruntled State Worker: “So what?” he asked with an tone of irritation that came from deep within his soul.
Jim Furyk missed a short putt and Feherty told us that kind of gaff will make Furyk tear his hair out. See photo of Furyk and his hairline.
Verne Lundquist set the room on fire with his this line after Matt Kuchar made and early birdie and the crowd responded by yelling out his nickname. “The calls of Kutch,” Lundquist explained.
Maybe Verne, the rest of the crew from CBS and the Gods at Augusta National should head to the Urban Dictionary and track down an alternate spelling of Kutchar’s nickname (Cooch) to see why we laughed then and turned the line into a day-long joke.
(Another not-golf-related item we gleaned during the tournament. Apparently, at least according to half the group in attendance, the dirtiest line ever uttered on network television came via the program Leave it to Beaver when June Cleaver remarked, “Ward, you were a little hard on the Beaver last night.”)
The Kuch was a fan of the CBS director and announcers. We saw a lot of him. At one point, as he walked to a tee, we were breathlessly informed, “He does that ball toss every time he walks off a green.”
I wonder how many of the last 21 winners at the Masters tossed a ball up and down to themselves every time they walked off a green in the final round.
If there was a broadcast surprise, it was the lack of mention of Woods. Good money said Nantz would mention Eldrick at least 30 times. Boy, were we wrong. The final unofficial tally was 1.
Not that Jim didn’t entertain us. Talking of a possible victory by the 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, Nantz told us the kid would be the youngest winner of the tournament, adding, “You’d have to go back to the 1931 PGA Chamipionship to find a younger major winner.”
Hey Jim, we have a quick question for you. Who the Christ won the 1931 PGA Championship!?!
Much later we were informed it was Tom Creavy. Turns out Creavy won in matchplay at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I., downing Denny Schute 2 & 1.
Nantz was good for other quips.
Jordan Spieth had holed a bunker shot by this time in the event and Nantz pointed out when he was victorious at the John Deere Classic last year, Spieth canned a bunker shot on the final day. When the replay of that shot was shown, Nantz excitedly said, “green shirt!” to which the Lawyer replied with the same verve in his voice, “gray pants!”
See, Jordan was wearing a green shirt at the John Deere and Sunday, as well. Nantz, it seems, found that to be compelling information. We didn’t.
Boy, did the announcers beat the crap out of a dead horse. Spieth, we were told, is young, but thinks like a much older golfer. We heard the reference time and time and time again. Kostis’s version was, “He has a young body and an old head.”
We remarked at how little we saw of other players other than the final pairing and Freddy Couples. Couples and Nantz were suite mates at the University of Houston.
At the third hole, playing approximately 350 yards, Bubba crushed driver and then mess up his his very short approach, knocking if over the green. Faldo correctly criticized Watson for the play, saying with the flag location where it was, the tactic was to lay up.
Was it Nantz who subtly tried to absolve Gerry of the god-awful shot? “Bubba drove it so close to the green he had an almost impossible shot.”
Think Gerry thought it was impossible? Doubt it.
By the way, apparently the reason Gerry doesn’t win more on the PGA Tour, he has six victories, is he has a concentration problem, but not at good old ANGC.
“He has a short attention span and these greens entertain him,” Kostis commented, entertaining us at the same time.
Kostis was the gift that kept on giving in that final round.
Ricky Fowler and Angel Jimenz disappeared from coverage shortly after playing their second shots on the first hole. Jonas Blixt (he’s Swedish), who was keeping on the heels of the leaders along with Couples, didn’t get nearly as much coverage, that is until Freddy faltered. Blixt, by the way, shot a solid 1-under and tied for second with Spieth.
The ending of the 2014 installment of the Masters was anticlimactic, at least for much of the viewing public. Not us. There was Angie Watson, Gerry’s wife, at the 18th green carrying their son, Caleb, and then there was Caleb sticking a digit up a nostril as little boys have been known to do.
Cue the State Worker and a Caddyshack reference.
“Fifty bucks said he eats it!”
Unfortunately, Caleb did not mimic the Smails kid and pop the thing in his mouth. Fortunately, for us though, there had been plenty of wonderful comments throughout the day so we weren’t left feeling cheated.