Augusta diary: Banner day for TMZ puts McIlroy head in the clouds

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The Independent Online

Who is responsible for the banners being flown over Augusta? That was the main mystery here yesterday as Tiger Woods and the green-jackets flashed nervous glances towards the sky.

On Thursday an aircraft had towed two quips. The first read, "Tiger, did you mean Bootyism?" referring to his renewed faith in Buddhism and later a second read, "Sex Addict? Yeah. Right. Sure. Me Too!"

Woods claimed not to have seen the aerial bombardment and must have been the only one on the property who didn't. The finger of suspicion was immediately pointed at the celebrity website TMZ, which has the been the media's forerunner in breaking the Woods scandal.

Uncannily, TMZ predicted what the second banner would say. The aircraft was traced back to a firm in Toledo, but they wouldn't reveal the hirer who are playing a clever game in concealing their identity.

Rory McIlroy spoke for many here when expressing his surprise that Augusta would allow such an intrusion on their grounds, even if it was a thousand feet in the air.

"I thought they would have bought the airspace," said the young Ulsterman. Rory needn't worry himself. Next year they'll have security guards on the clouds.

Has Alliss left BBC in the rough?

The word is that the BBC's director of sport, Barbara Slater, is here desperately trying to convince the green-jackets to extend the BBC's contract. But, as The Independent reported last week, she is up against it.

Three years ago, when the deal last needed renewing, Mark Thompson flew in to lead the charm offensive. It worked, but will Augusta find the director general's absence offensive this time around? And will they opt for the Sky millions as a result? Certainly two interviews given by their commentator, Peter Alliss, did not help his employer's cause. Alliss was his usual frank self when speaking to The Times and Golf World, calling Tiger "cowardly" for reappearing in the controlled environs of the Masters and questioning whether Augusta might have told the disgraced world No 1 to stick it. The Beeb are not happy with the old boy for his dangerously-timed critique. Could tomorrow be Alliss's last Augusta commentary? Seems so.

Free car park turns into expensive proposition

Augusta have recently spent a reported $45m on buying up all the houses on a 113-acre development across the road from the golf course. And what they have done with these properties? Accommodated all of Tiger's mistresses perhaps? Nope. They've flattened them all to build a free car park. They began buying the houses in secret a decade ago. Their ruse was only realised a few years ago when the remaining owners realised the goldmine they were sitting on. So Augusta then had to pay top dollar.

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