Like most golf fans, I stayed up to the early hours Monday morning to watch the genial Spaniard, Sergio Garcia, don his Green Jacket.
Although I have to say, it always irks me a little when I know that the celebratory moment of the past champion bedecking the newly crowned champion with the Pantone 342-coloured jacket has to actually happen twice. Once in the Butler Cabin for the sake of the TV audience and then after that deed is done, it has to be repeated out on the golf course in front of the gallery and club members, for the presentation of the trophy. To me, it all seems rather bogus, especially after the harsh reality of Amen corner and the brutality of the back nine. Once the green jacket is got, it should stay got and not have to be presented twice. I believe the TV audiences are grown up enough to handle watching the televised jacket swapping malarkey just once, probably live by the 18th green and without having to listen to the benign questions posed by Jim Nantz Dans la Cabine. On that note, how well did leading amateur Stewart Hagestad express himself, it puts some of our premier league millionaires to shame, doesn’t it?
But that said I doubt if there was a dry eye in the house by the time 37year-old Sergio slipped his arm into the sleeve of that coveted jacket – Well, the houses on this side of the pond. I’m sure if the eyes in the houses of those Star Spangled Banner waving, “get in the hole” shouting American side were weeping, it was probably because their boys, Fowler and Spieth, didn’t show up for the last round party, even though they had access all areas invitations.
Personally, I only watch the Masters and The Open on TV. For me, they are the only two events that mean anything. You can take your US Open and the PGA Championship and toss them into the water at the 17th on Sawgrass’ stadium course, for all I care. Even though the Masters is the Johnny-Come-Lately to the Grand Slam line-up, it still means the most of all the American Tournaments and ranks very close to The Open Championship as being the one event that every golfer wants to win.
So, I am exceptionally happy that Sergio eventually popped his major cherry on his 74th attempt and on what would have been Seve Ballesteros 60th birthday. Although, I have to add, had Justin Rose won, I would have been almost as exceptionally happy. I’m also pleased that following in the footsteps of his heroes Seve and José, it is the Master’s trophy, a depiction of the Augusta clubhouse, that will have Sergio’s name engraved on it. Now, let’s hope that having secured the first leg of the Grand Slam quadruplet that he can go on and make a fist at securing the other three titles, and claim that rarity of rarities, a calendar-year Grand Slam, thus casting a shadow over the others who have only ever managed one miserly career major.
But what really interested me about the Sergio victory, even more than the how he fought through his demons. Who the hell gave him a driver to hit off of the 13th tee? For a moment, all I could see was another Jean van De Velde unraveling moment. No, what interested me most, is the constant mention by so many commentators that his win was due, in part, to his soon to be, wife, Angela Akins, who has calmed the boy from Borriol, Castellón, lifestyle.
Now, either this is lazy reporting by the golfing media, just repeating the same old tittle-tattle, which I doubt, or there must be a tangible truth in this story and in fact, Ms. Akins has been the soothing influence in Sergio’s life which he needed to help him break his major winning duck.
Although I’ve met Sergio, very briefly when he was a young man, I do not know him personally, but I never imagined or considered that the young Spaniard was either a rebel-rouser or a major quaffer of the Rioja. If anything, the somewhat stereotypical image I held of him was the caring Sergio, helping his dear old aged granny, all dressed in black, along the cobbled hilly streets of an Andalucía village, heading towards the awaiting Catholic Church, with its bells pealing and doors opened on a sunny Sunday morning. After all, I’ve never seen his drunken antics splashed across the tabloids, or kiss and tell stories of debauchery with ladies of the night reported, and I don’t ever remember him incurring any major injuries after being hit with a nine iron by a jealous partner on discovering his philandering. So, just what part of Sergio’s life did this angel from the Golf channel calm?
I was all of a loss… but then I recalled Amor Vincit Omnia, the Caravaggio painting — Love conquers all. Could it be true? Has Sergio’s love for this beauty quelled his nerves enough that he can now be considered a contender in Major competitions?
It came as quite a shock to me to realize that as well as having one of the best short games in the business, champions must also have the all stabilizing ‘her-indoors’ to make winning possible.
So, I did me a little checking and when I say a little checking, I mean I casually scanned Wikipedia for a previous winners list and it does seem that a staple of being a major winner is indeedy, being in a happy relationship.
Past Master’s winners, all the way back to 1976 and the champion Raymond Floyd, who is, in reality, the only winner that anyone could actually call a playboy, were all happily ensconced in a relationship. Well, with the exception of 2009 and Angel Cabrera, but who the hell knows what goes on in that guy’s love life?
Even Tiger, during his most prolific years, seemed at least, happily married. And as if evidence was needed as to the importance of a committed home life, we all know what happened to him when the wheels came off his matrimony bus.
This is all the proof one needs to confirm that golfers who chase birdies around the golf course are inevitably better players than golfers who chase birdies around the bedroom.
And to my mind, solves one of the great-unsolved golfing mysteries. Why Mr. 2-times married, babe magnet, Colin Montgomery never became 2-times major champion, Colin Montgomery. Clearly, had old sourpuss got it right at home, he may have faired better on the links.
Of course, we have yet to have disclosed what method is used to comfort the golfers frayed nerves, are we to assume that the little lady waiting at the back of the 18th has dinner ready on the table for when they get home, or does she have a little something more appealing cooking in the boudoir? Either way, forget swinging it flat, or taking it back inside the line, even overlook the putting claw grip, or deconstructing your arc, it appears, all that’s needed to be a great golfer is the love of a good woman.
Which conversely, brings me to the flip side argument of this intriguing happy partnership scenario.
As Sergio was thwacking his way around to his 70 on Saturday, supported by his lovely wife to be, across the pond on the outskirts of a city called Liverpool, at a little-known racetrack called Aintree, a bay gelding named, One For Arthur was romping its way to victory having jumped 32 excessively high fences in the most famous of British horse races.
I bring this up only as the owners of the horse were two ladies, Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson who collectively call themselves The Golf Widows. Which seems to be diametrically opposite to the Angela Akins stance.
So, the question I’m posing is, what makes some partners golfing redeemers, while others are golfing widows.
Of course, I understand that the husbands of Belinda and Deborah could never reach the dizzying heights of winning a Major, but according to the Masters reporting, maybe with the right loving environment at home, they could have made it to the dizzying heights of the club champions. If only the wives had followed Ms. Akin’s lead and supported their husband’s golfing exploits instead of running off and buying some old nag that just happened to win the Grand National.
How selfish is that?
Can you imagine if Mrs. Nicklaus, Player, and Palmer got tired of their spouse’s endless thrashing around the fairways and went off and bought themselves a thoroughbred? We could have ended up with that great golfing Triumvirate amassing far fewer majors.
What I’m saying here is it seems the endless hours on the practice strip means nothing unless your spouse is right there by your side. You may be gripping the club, but it’s your missus who is definitely gripping your balls, whether they be Titleist, Wilson or Srixon.
I wish the future Mr. and Mrs. Garcia nothing but wedded bliss and life long happiness and I totally get that a relaxed mind is a productive mind… but C’mon, the real reason Sergio won was the years of hitting golf balls every day of his life, otherwise the moral of this story has to be, behind every great man there is an even greater woman, who gave up her career just to make her man a champion.
And you thought the only sexist ideology in golf was that some clubs don’t allow women members. Ha!