Augusta Diary: Donald's comic turn proves a blast
The cat is well and truly out of the bag, the cool cat even. So much for Luke Donald cast in the role of the staid, quiet Englishman with all the humour of John Major during a sponsored silence. The dude, as the say over here, is a blast.
The world No 1 proved so in an acceptance speech at the Golf Writers' Association of America annual dinner on Wednesday night. Voted player of the year – only the second Briton to receive this honour following Sir Nick Faldo in 1990 – Donald got to his feet and proceeded to have them guffawing in the aisles.
The gist of his address was the lack of media coverage he commands in comparison to some of his rivals. It was capped by the quip, "It feels strange to be in a full room of media, but I've devised a way to make myself more noticed" – at which point he donned a Rory McIlroy wig.
The thing is that even the Ulsterman himself has to doff his locks when it comes to the popular vote among the players and, indeed, the journalists. Only Padraig Harrington has ever won the main four player of the year awards – the US Tour, the European Tour, the GWAA and the Association of Golf Writers. Donald receives the final prize at the AGW's annual dinner at Royal Lytham on the Tuesday of the Open. The speech by the golf's new Peter Kay is eagerly awaited. No pressure, then.
No City limits for Westwood
Does Mario Balotelli have a new team-mate in Lee Westwood? It seems that way after it was announced yesterday that Chubby Chandler's ISM management company has linked up with the royal family of Abu Dhabi, better known in Britain as the owners of Manchester City.
The move basically sees Chandler extending his footprint in the Middle East, joining up with MENA, the management company owned by the Abu Dhabi royals. ISM will have a base in Dubai and this will entail the expansion of the football division. The deal could be worth millions for Chandler.
As a football-lover, Westwood, the world No 3, will be pleased with the Abu Dhabi association; although perhaps not as pleased as his son, Sam. Young Westwood is a City fan. Tickets shouldn't be a problem, then.
Getting to the bottom of Tiger
Hank Haney, whose book The Big Miss on his six years with Tiger, soared to No 1 on the New York Times's best-seller list yesterday, writes how difficult he found it to get close with Woods on a personal basis.
Sean Foley, Tiger's new coach, seems to have had no such problems. As he made his way to the first tee yesterday Foley smacked Woods on the backside. Woods looked a trifle uncomfortable and then snap-hooked it into the trees. Don't mess with his toot-toot.
Early class from Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is all class. Despite not playing until the very last tee time at 1.53pm, the three-time champion turned up at the course approximately four hours before required to watch Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer hit the ceremonial drives.
Mickelson stood there by the first tee, proudly decked in his green jacket. "I thought it was remarkable," said Nicklaus. The "Golden Bear" was referring to Mickelson's presence; not to the fact the ageing trio all hit the first fairway.
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