The scene in our house as the Masters approaches its climax is, I imagine, not hugely uncommon. A slightly worrying degree of domestic chaos; animals lying about indifferent; unnameable family members similarly either uncaring or worse to the progress of Westwood and co. Tense negotiations awaiting their moment. Sure those actual players may be ‘feeling the heat’ but back here in the real world of unwashed plates and unwalked dogs the machinations of sports-sponsored pressure are no less significant. It’s just that none of you buggers care if I get to watch the golf, or Homeland wins out.
As I write, under the quiet threat of carpet-hoiked disappointment, the Midlander Plus (likeable Lee/leaner now but still stout-as-an-oak Lee) is on his metaphorical bike. Riding with some power and cadence and authority in fact, like some Yellow Jersey hunting down the impudent breakaway through a cheering Pyrenean market town. Westwood’s pretty much tearing up the course but then forgetting to putt ; like he does, actually. Only this time – in this Major – he really is giving the impression that he might make up his current 2 shot deficit and grab a tie before storming to victory, thus liberating us all from that suspicion that he must forever remain Desperate Dan-shaped … and maybe chinned… and heroically willing but underachieving.
That’s at this second; but the rolling, non-factual, immediately nonsensed strokes ticks and crosses on that mazy line of progress billboarded so blandly but violently on the leaderboards doinked around Augusta are already providing counter-truths. Because Oosthuizen’s nerve keeps holding. Because actually Lee, you had to make eagle not birdie. Etcetera. So #nocowpie.
But I have jolted accidentally forwards(?) into something approximating proper reportage. Forgive me.
I wrote previously of the unreality of being presented in my innocence with the absurdly groomed and colored indulgence-fest that is Masters Coverage, US style; when nonchalantly turning my telly on. How that lurch into the coiffured bristles of the course felt like a challenge to taste … and to the world of Non-America/commies/women/subtlety itself. A defiance, a bulwark against (even) blokes like me, who respect the game but question its gaudy, beer-bellied conservatisms was being built, or scripted, line by NBC graphic. Proposing Augusta; symbolising Republican Disney-Pomp. But my response – that instinct to turn down the colour control – dims inevitably with absorption into the drama. Of which there has been and still is plenty.
Before we know it, almost midnight and a play-off looms. No Brits or Europeans. Weirdly, a tall dark and medium handsome American dressed head to toe in shiningly sportswear-affected glam-white will face a less image-conscious Afrikaaner. Bubba versus Oosthuizen. If we were to fall into the trap of reducing it to TV-friendly brushstrokes (and why not?) – Brash American v Dour Farmer. As we wait for the thing to re-settle for tee-shots on the 18th, we might be temporarily be further diverted along the path of psycho-cobblers if we accept the invitation to contemplate the entire Mickelson family similarly dressed in white, hugging ‘pop’ and perfectly projecting the American brand. (This could, of course be a cynical Brit-centric view of a contest suddenly denied Brits.) Oooh … good drives!
Then a fine second from Oosthuizen bettered by a brilliant arrow from Watson. But two missed putts. A hole played well to no avail. Then on the 10th, the lanky yanky leftie heaves one way left… but is followed, hypnotised by the South African, who, owing to a fortunate rebound has a direct line to the green. He can’t get there, however, falling short by some thirty yards. Bubba strikes an extraordinary and brilliant lofted, corkscrewed draw from within the pine-needled suburbs to about eight feet. Sensational… and decisive. He wins and manfully cries his heart out in enormous girlie sobs.
So, after our lot acquitted themselves with a hearty mix of serenity and style and grit – Poulter and Westwood and Garcia and Harrington and Rose amongst a clutch deserving special mention – we then get this sickeningly(?) wholesome fireside ‘interview’ in a lodge with Another Bloody American sliding into that green jacket. The presentation may indeed have been, on the credit side, one of the few occasions where The Lord failed to interject into ceremonial proceedings in North America – my god it felt he surely would! – but the trademark schmaltzy sub-religious allusions to blessed family life tripped out from the interviewer predictably enough.
Bubba however– genuinely moved by the emotion of the moment from the second his winning putt sank – seemed likeably transformed during the trip from green to homely hutch from slightly swaggeringly pristine local into proper lovely human. And given that he possesses an undeniably eccentric ‘technique’, consisting essentially of disconcertingly wild and inconsistent thrashes at the general location of the ball, we must surely both congratulate him and welcome him as one of our own.
For it turns out that I am wrong on most counts. Wrong to suspect that Westwood (around the 15th) had ‘that look about him’ – meaning that he would contradict the brutal realities of competitive sport itself by being good-but-not-extra-special(?) whilst winning something massive. Wrong to so predictably thumb my nose at the apparent clichés of American Life – because Brother Blubber Bubba is too engagingly an individual to be labelled too crassly, for one thing. And wrong to be suspicious of white stuff; I think.
No; maybe I reserve judgement on that last one.