In the week we should have been watching the Masters, Ewen Murray shares some of his favourite memories from Augusta National, including commentating with Jack Nicklaus… in a T-shirt!
Like you, I’m missing the Masters, that glorious and enchanting opening to our season. Even though it’s 4,000 miles away, it was our curtain-raiser to the wonderful golﬁng months ahead.
You will all have your favourite memories of the tournament and as we have so much time on our hands, I thought I’d share some of mine with you.
I get nervous at Augusta, and I think it’s the sheer magnetism of the Masters. Maybe it’s excitement, anticipation or worry that you might make mistakes, but the adrenaline rush is quite strong.
A few years ago, Jack Nicklaus was our guest on Sky Sports. David Livingstone and Butch Harmon were sitting alongside the six-time champion in the studio. I was a mile away in the television production village as I watched and listened to Jack’s every word.
That day, I was, for some reason, more nervous than normal, so I had dressed down into a plain black T-shirt as I wouldn’t be seen on air. An hour into the program, the live golf was about to begin and David thanked Jack for his time and said he and our viewers looked forward to his commentary. Commentary?!
With my preparation, mind all over the place and thoughts running riot, I’d forgotten Jack was joining me for a short time in the box and here was me, with a T-shirt on!
The door opened and into the booth entered Jack. He was dressed immaculately with a crisp clean white shirt, a yellow Masters tie and a beautiful, perfectly-tailored, Green Jacket. Oﬀ came the jacket which was placed around the chair.
“How you doing Ewen, I’ve been looking forward to watching and chatting about the golf.”
I immediately apologised for being a bit of a scruﬀ, but I needn’t have worried when Jack said: “I wish I had a T-shirt on, this collar is playing havoc with my neck.” I didn’t think for one minute it was, but it was Jack’s way of making you feel comfortable. The greatest golfer of our generation, and the sport’s most humble gentleman.
After a few minutes, I almost forgot we were live on air. His insight around that course was exhilarating, fascinating, and knowledgeable, all with a sprinkling of humour. It was like watching the Masters with your best mate.
Bubba took to the tee with his pink driver and I said: “Jack, I somehow couldn’t see you with a pink driver”.
“Pink? I wouldn’t know, I’m colourblind!”
Ian Poulter found himself in the bunker at the left of the third green. “I never knew there was a bunker there,” was the comment from my right. “I always looked to the right side of the pin, no future left.”
I could go on, Jack’s sense of humour matched his decency, and that day and the days ahead I shared with him were some of my most memorable and enjoyable days in TV.
Shot of The Masters
I can’t look past Tiger’s chip from the back of the 16th green. If the world’s best ﬁlm scriptwriters came up with that, they would have surely been ushered into a van with padded walls.
The ball, almost stopping at the apex of the break as if to have a breather. Receiving second wind, it trundles down the slope gathering pace before its journey looks over. Exhausted, it rests on the edge of the cup, shows its swoosh and we think it’s done. One ﬁnal dimple roll and the ball disappears into darkness.
Ecstasy, pandemonium, raw joy, not just for Tiger, but for the whole world watching. We live for moments like that in sport. It was one we will never forget.
Image of The Masters
It’s from 2013, when Adam Scott became the ﬁrst Australian to win the Masters, but it wasn’t just about that winning moment in sudden death on a rainy night in Georgia.
The defeated Argentine star, Angel Cabrera, had his son Frederico caddieing for him that week. They must have gone through every emotion over the four days. When Adam holed his 12-footer from right to left across the 10th green, Frederico’s head bowed, and his dad stood back to allow the Aussie his ﬁnest moment.
When the moment passed, Angel walked over and congratulated Adam. The live cameras stayed on the new champion but one of my monitors had another scene; it was father and son, arm in arm walking back up the hill to the clubhouse. Defeated, yes, gave their all, yes.
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