Bunker Mentality

Scotland brave once again

Bunker Mentality

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Even the
septuagenarian Peter Alliss would probably struggle to remember the last time
two Scottish players won in the same week. Hell, probably even Old Tom Morris
would find it tough.

And with that in
mind, BM is thrilled and delighted to doff its cap to Martin Laird and Paul
Lawrie
, winners of Bay Hill and the Andalucian Open respectively. To paraphrase the football commentator, "Sean Connery, Braveheart, Duncan Bannatyne - your boys gave out one hell of a beating!"

In fairness we should point out that the Andalucian Open is
golf's equivalent of the Zenith Data Systems Cup - with the Masters just over a
week away, everyone who is anyone in the world of golf is already Stateside
sharpening their game for Augusta - but Lawrie's golf throughout the week was
magnificent, and would have won him a shiny new pot for the mantelpiece no
matter where in the world he'd been playing.

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Martin Laird's
victory in Florida, however, was a different matter. At one of the biggest early season tournaments the Scot pulled off the
toughest of all victories: the one where you make a complete Horlicks of the
whole thing, but somehow claw your way back into contention and finish the job.

The US-based player's late
birdies on 15 and 16 to get back into the hunt were one thing, but it was his
70ft two-putt on the last - which is like lagging a golf ball around a Wall of
Death - that truly impressed.

Will he be the saviour
of Scottish golf?

Maybe, but frankly, BM
doesn't much care either way. For the moment we're just luxuriating in the
pleasure of seeing a Scot - or any golfer, for that matter - who has the type
of balls that don't have 'Titleist' stamped on them.

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Lawrie and Laird might be flying the flag for Scotland at the moment, but one man whose Saltire is well and truly packed away at the moment is Sam Torrance.

The former Ryder Cup skipper has been axed from the BBC's commentary team for the Masters, and as a result has withdrawn his services for The Open.

What a relief for everyone. Alliss apart, the BBC's golf coverage has been sleepwalking for years, and Torrance is one of the chief culprits.

The Scot was superb when he started out, but of late he seems to be working under the catastrophic misapprehension that merely possessing a voice as rich and meaty as a Fortnum and Mason fruit cake means he doesn't have to do any actual work.

He's the king of the caption readers, simply repeating what any non-visually impaired viewer can already see, or more often read, for themselves. Analysis? Nope. Opinion? Pass. Insight? Don't make us laugh.

There's a reason why Alliss has endured: it's not his quirky sense of humour, or his Marmite personality. It's his (currently unrivalled) ability to point out things not otherwise obvious, and his refreshingly honest judgements on golf's stars.

With disastrous anchorman Gary Lineker long since replaced (much for the better) by Hazel Irvine, all we need now is for primary school teacher-wannabe Ken Brown to get lost in a bunker and Wayne Grady (the pretender to Torrance's caption-reading throne) to be sliced into the tall grass. Then maybe the BBC's TV golf team can start adding something to the pictures they receive, rather than giving you endless reasons to turn the volume down and turn up Iain Carter and co on the radio.

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Bunker Mentality has
owned plenty of golf videos - or 'DVDs', as the kids seem to call them
these days.

But only two of them have ever been watched more than once.

The first was perhaps
the greatest golf instruction video of all time: a Tony Jacklin masterpiece
(presented by Bruce Critchley, no less) that taught us everything we know about
golf technique.

(That's not much of
an endorsement, by the way: BM's current handicap stands at a shaky 14.)

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The second is the DVD
of the 1986 Masters, an astonishing event which celebrates its 25th anniversary
next week. When did a golf tournament ever provide so much entertainment?

There was Nick
Price's astonishing 63 (including an amazing horseshoed putt on the last for a
62) that will probably always remain the course record; there was the sight of
Seve chunking a bread-and-butter iron shot into the water on the 15th; the
first of Greg Norman's three final-day Major near-misses that year; and, best of
all, Jack Nicklaus's outlandish back nine of 30 to win his sixth green jacket.

BM is slightly too
young to have stayed up to watch the incredible events unfold - its youthful mind
was more concerned with trying to finish the Panini sticker album for Mexico
'86 - but has seen it all happen many times since.

If you've never had
the pleasure, the silver anniversary of possibly the best golf tournament ever marks
as good a moment as any to try it for the first time.

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TWEET OF THE WEEK

Not a player this
week, but an ordinary punter: Twitter user 'jeffreyaward' posted this pic of
Tiger Woods in what he described as the "greatest magazine display of all
time".

We'd be inclined to agree.

 

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

One of Colin Montgomerie's defining
characteristics has always been that he never knows how to walk away
gracefully.

Would American fans have taunted him so brutally for so long had he
not risen to the bait, every time? Would he have been lambasted over his failure
to win the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot if he'd simply admitted that he made one
bad swing on the 72nd fairway? Would the whiff of cheating still follow him had
he simply used the word 'sorry', loudly and often, after replacing his ball in
what was palpably the wrong spot at the Indonesian Open in Jakarta in 2005?

The Scot demonstrated
this blind spot in his personality yet again with his response when confronted
with Sandy Lyle's suggestion that Monty could be Ryder Cup skipper once again
in 2014, at Gleneagles.

"I am sure I
will be involved because of my affiliation with Gleneagles, whatever that may
be. But if asked again, and because of my involvement for and with the Tour
over the years, I would have to accept. Only if they wanted me," he said.

No, Colin. No. The
correct answer is: "There are plenty of other excellent candidates
who all deserve a chance to lead."  Or: "I had the most incredible week of my
life as captain of the European team at Celtic Manor, but that honour deserves to be
passed on to someone else."

We've nothing against Monty, or his captaincy skills. But the thought of him potentially tarnishing the defining moment of his career by trying to repeat it four years on is frankly horrifying.

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INTERESTING THEORY OF THE WEEK

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Phil Mickelson has
admitted that he's going to intentionally play the wrong type of game for the
Shell Houston Open at Redstone this week. Instead of playing the course as it
demands, he will use the event as a sort of extended practice session for
Augusta.

"Houston is not
going to set up well for me," said the defending Masters champion. "The
problem for me there is there is so much water that pinches off the tee, and
I'm just not going to hit 3-woods off the tee and play that course
strategically the week before Augusta.

"And then when
it gets windy and I'm trying to hit high balls for Augusta and it requires a
low knock-down shot, it's not going to work."

Ah-ha - that must
explain why we've seen Phil playing so many bump-and-run shots and drilled
punches under the wind at the calm, target golf-fest that the Scottish Open at Loch
Lomond has been over the last few years.

Or at least, we
imagine we ought to have seen those shots. Maybe we just blinked. A lot. And maybe
you did too.

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