Alliss in war of words with 'thin-skinned' Dougherty

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The old and the new worlds are always prone to collide in golf, yet rarely have they done so as angrily, or indeed as entertainingly, as Nick Dougherty and Peter Alliss here yesterday.

In an extraordinary exchange, the young professional accused the veteran BBC man of "disgusting commentary", of "showing no respect" and of being "out of touch". Alliss then hit back by accusing Dougherty and his generation of being "so bloody delicate" and poured scorn upon their excellence.

It all began after Dougherty had finished down the field in the BMW PGA Championship and was asked for his opinions on the controversial West Course greens that apparently assisted the gusts in causing Saturday's havoc when scores spiralled. But instead of attacking the putting surfaces, he went straight for the jugular of Alliss, who, with his stinging barbs, angered many watching in the Players' Lounge.

"I thought his commentary was disgusting," said the 26-year-old of Alliss, 51 years his senior. "He was talking about us being bad putters. I don't know whether it's because he has been out of the game for so long, but he ought to show us more respect. I wish we could take him out there and show him how difficult it was."

Alliss responded with incredulity rather than tact. "I know it is bloody difficult," he said. "I played at Wentworth before they had bloody watering, when you had eight wooden shots into the green with your second shot. Don't tell me it's bloody difficult. I won 21 tournaments, played in eight Ryder Cups. I am not here to do anything but say what is going on and they didn't play well.

"They are so thin-skinned nowadays. It is quite extraordinary. They all say they can take criticism and they don't mind constructive criticism. Balls. They do mind."

The old boy was just warming up and continued on what will soon become a famous golfing rant. "If it is not all perfect now, they all complain," he said. "They nearly had a walkout on Friday because the ninth green was flooded. 'Nobody told me,' they all said. As far as I am concerned, that's the way it is. Years ago, the courses weren't manicured and you had to make the most of it. I always say the golfers of a 100 years ago were 10 times more skilful. They had hickory clubs, the bunkers weren't raked, the greens weren't cut, sheep were on the course and a fellow cut the greens with a bloody scythe. And they went around St Andrews in 73 or 74.

"What did he say? 'Take him out and show him how hard it is?' Christ almighty. Hard is when Nicklaus took 84 at Royal St George's. Now, that's hard. There were no courtesy cars and all that. I had to play two rounds of bloody golf at St Andrews and then drive home through the night to give Mrs Anderson a lesson on Saturday morning. There you are. I'm sorry he is upset, because Nick is a nice lad. But he will get over it."

Alliss showed just how unrepentant he was by making repeated references to the argument through his description of yesterday's last round. For instance when the Indian Jyoti Randhawa came up 30 metres short of the 12th green, Alliss asked: "Am I allowed to say that was a mishit? Or would that be too cruel?"