Golf: Yet another wrong from Mr Wright

FIRST TEE
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The Independent Online
BEN WRIGHT'S fans, the ones who stayed loyal when the corpulent broadcaster described Laura Davies as "a tank" and waxed lyrical about the sexuality of LPGA Tour players a few years ago, will be thrilled to hear that he is the proud author of a new book called Good Bounces and Bad Lies. Or should that be Bad Bounces and Good Lies?

And what a book it is. In it, the metabolically challenged one reminisces fondly about the 1989 Ryder Cup match, to which he lent his not inconsiderable wit and wisdom.

"I lost count of the telephone calls and letters I received after the broadcasts that Gary McCord and I and our USA Network team sent back live, for the very first time, from rural England," he writes. "Nary a one of them was negative in any way - rather gushingly the reverse. This appreciation came as a complete surprise, so distraught were McCord and I about the abysmal pictorial coverage supplied to us by the BBC.

"Having worked for that state-sponsored corporation in the 1960s, when I served part of my apprenticeship under the late, great Henry Longhurst, it almost made me weep to witness the depths to which the BBC camera coverage had plunged. In addition to failing to follow the ball in a very favourable sky, the BBC hardly ever managed to relate it... to either tee or green. There it was, just a lonely golf ball sitting forlornly on the grass."

As they say in the US: Here's a quarter. Call someone who cares.

Bonkers about bunkers

WRIGHT RESIDES in the US along with other golf nuts such as the Golf Nuts Society of America and, of course, Wendi Keene, Golf Nut of the Year. Ms Keene, who lies fourth on the all-time Golf Nut scorer's list behind such luminaries as the basketball legend Michael Jordan and the founder of Ben Crenshaw's fan club, took up the game at 38 and immediately installed an indoor driving range in her garage.

Over the next six months, she practised every night and rented a video camera to record her swing. She then spent four years writing an as yet unpublished book: The Passionate Power of Golf and other Secrets to a Better Game the Pros Never Tell You. Other winning Golf Nut attributes include: playing 25 holes on Christmas Day and playing golf right-handed for seven years before switching to left-handed golf.

In winning the title, Keene became "the first woman in history to be named Golf Nut of the Year. Her passion for the game is unparalleled", said Ron Garland, Head Nut.

Laura's broadside

LAURA DAVIES, the single most important figure on the women's European Tour and the only reason it has kept going as long as it has, was less than amused when she was fined pounds 50 recently for saying that the Irish Open venue made the players "look like muppets".

"I didn't even read it," she said. "I just tore it up. There was no big drama, I just put it in the bin where it belonged. It's not that it was necessarily unfair. The Tour thought I had brought the game into disrepute. I said that it was probably the worst course I had ever played, but I play a lot of great courses. I don't have to like every tournament I play. The Tour never should have sent it. The left hand didn't know what the right was doing."

After all she had done for the Tour, the fun-loving, easygoing Davies, was reported to have been absolutely livid. Apart from the fact that pounds 50 is nothing to a woman who drives Ferraris, she was, by all accounts, justified in criticising a course with ridiculously long rough. Until now, the former British and US Open champion and world No 1 has made it her mission to fly over from the States to support every flea-circus European tournament her schedule would allow. But the Tour's pettiness seems to have stretched even Davies's goodwill to the limit.

Asked whether she would continue supporting the Tour, she said curtly: "I don't know."

The cup of whine

IN THE run-up to the Ryder Cup, the former team member Michael King revealed that the main reason Mark James and Ken Brown behaved like hooligans at the 1979 match at the Greenbrier was that their clothing had been substandard. James and Brown are, of course, the highly regarded captain and deputy now leading our troops into battle at Brookline, but 20 years ago, when they caused havoc by turning up at the airport in camping gear, refusing to pose for team photos and feigning injury, they were anything but.

King went on to say that it was unreasonable to expect a player like Brian Barnes to fly economy "all the way to the States. I think it took him about three days to recover from the flight". Assuming he is referring to Barnes's bulk rather than his ability to sit in a chair for seven hours, then Concorde, with its narrow seats, would hardly help. If he is talking about the fine food and wine available on Concorde, that's a different matter.

It is worth noting that in 1951 the British team travelled cabin, rather than first-class, across the Atlantic in the Queen Mary, saving pounds 1,250, and that, two years later, Ben Hogan took a ship to Carnoustie and won the Open Championship, and yet all were able to conduct themselves with etiquette and decorum and, most importantly, without complaining about it.

The biggest drive?

THANKS, IN PART, to the sterling efforts of Messrs O'Meara, Woods and Duval, the Ryder Cup is rapidly becoming synonymous with rip-offs, and Brookline 99 is no exception.

Naturally, there are the $80 T-shirts, the $250 hotel rooms, the scalpers' tickets for $1,000 or more. Then there are the ostentatious hospitality units, where an eight-person table goes for $50,000. Now a local electronics multi-millionaire is charging spectators $50 a day to park in his driveway. "Why would someone who is a multi-millionaire want people parking in their driveway?" one observer wondered.

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