The return of Tiger Woods has attracted much coverage – less so twice Green Jacket Bubba Watson who won Genesis at the Riviera aged 39. At his best he is one of the most watchable golfers on the planet, a supreme shot-maker in the style of Seve.
In a world of formulaic highly-coached, preppy collegiate golfers he sticks out. His game owes no allegiance to, or support from, coaches and caddying for him must be a nightmare. That great tipping sage Jeremy Chapman, whilst noting his record at Riviera, could not advocate him because of his putting.
Nonetheless his game held together and he fought off the challenge of yet another brilliant American youngster Patrick Cantlay to win by two strokes. Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas never featured but one who did – and one to watch – is the young Aussie Cameron Smith who won the Australian PGA.
Alan Tanner was kind enough to invite me to Fulham v Aston Villa and at half time I was thrilled to exchange a few words with Fulham supporter Bernard Gallacher. It was the much-loved and much-missed Peter Thomson, the headmaster of Emanuel School, who recruited him as a Cottager.
I asked Bernard about the 1969 Ryder Cup played in fractious circumstances but at the final hole a famous concession was made by Jack Nicklaus to Tony Jacklin. Why in particular was it the Golden Bear’s first Ryder Cup as he had already won two Majors?
Bernard informed me that there was a seven year USPGA apprenticeship for selection. This did not apply to the UK and Bernard – in making his debut aged 20 – beat Lee Trevino 4 & 3.
The Fiorentina v Atalanta match was scheduled for 5.00 pm but there was an overrun so that they could feature post-match coverage from Wasps v Exeter. This was no more than an interview with Tom Young and a scene in the supporter’s room in the stadium. It meant that by the time transmission began we were already 20 minutes into the game and we had missed the first Fiorentina goal.
This is not the first lack of BT professionalism I have noted – another is not having a studio but the presenter and his analysts are touchline. Gary Lineker, when fronting, does not look comfortable going to adverts as he has no experience of this on BBC. They have yet to find an analyst of the stature of Gary Neville and their only innovation I care for is the ex-ref – normally the Vicar of Tring Graham Poll – holding forth on decisions.
Betting-wise Phil Michelson another golfer with a fine record on the Riviera saved my bacon with another top 5 finish. Steve Palmer hit the front by backing Shub Sharma on the European Tour in the Malaysian Open, netting him five grand. Like all gamblers he is still unhappy as he missed out on the double with Joe Rahm who cratered in the final round at Pebble Beach.