Masters 2008 diary: Azinger trapped on the web

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The Independent Online

So The Mail On Sunday did decide to put last week's already infamous interview with Paul Azinger on the internet yesterday and helped to clear up some of the confusion in the process. Azinger claimed the British journalist had taken him "out of context" in an interview.

Azinger was quoted as using the term "prick" in connection with Nick Faldo, his opposing Ryder Cup captain in Kentucky in September, and told a fellow scribbler here on Wednesday that he would not be speaking to any other Fleet Street reporters "in a million fucking years" because of this blatant distortion of the truth.

On The Mail on Sunday website Azinger can be clearly heard saying: "You know, if you're going to be a prick, and everybody hated you, why do you think because you're trying to be cute and funny on the air that they're all suddenly going to start to like you?" Now, whatever Azinger says, that is "in context".

So it will be interesting how Faldo reacts now. Yesterday, he was too busy up in the CBS tower to respond to the new development, although Sam Torrance, the victorious 2002 captain, is under no illusion why Azinger chose to backtrack on his outburst.

"Paul Azinger is a very bright person," said Torrance, who has been part of the BBC commentary team at the Masters. "The Americans have suffered a lot of losses and he's trying to stir up a hornets' nest to get things unsettled. He has said it knowing that there will be repercussions and it has backfired on him. It was rather silly, especially as you have the tape and it's there for all to hear. What Azinger said was unnecessary, uncalled for and is not what the Ryder Cup is about."

Clampett down

It is a curious place, America. The Augusta National, meanwhile, is thoroughly baffling. Here is a club which only allowed blacks to join 18 years ago and which is still to open its membership to females. So perhaps they aren't in too strong a position to make moral judgements on discrimination.

That doesn't seem to stop them, however. It is understood that certain green jackets are furious with Bobby Clampett, the television analyst, for calling Liang Wen-Chong a "Chinaman" live on air in this Masters. Now, apparently calling a man from China "a Chinaman" is an unforgivable racial slur and Clampett, known in Britain for blowing a seven-shot lead in the Open in 1982, was forced to issue an apology.

"It has been a privilege to be here with you the last two days describing action of all of the players," grovelled Clampett. "In describing the Asian player Wen-Chong Liang if I offended anybody please accept my sincere apologies." Let's just hope cricket never catches on in Georgia. How they would describe a left-arm leg-spinner is anyone's guess.

Late and ludicrous

Any golf fans who have enjoyed watching the Masters unfold these last few days may be interested to hear the timings of the next major, the US Open in San Diego. In its determination to gain the highest television ratings possible in New York the USGA have opted for the ludicrous finishing time of 7pm. That means it will be 3am in Britain when the winner eventually taps in at Torrey Pines. And the golfing authorities wonder why fewer people are taking up the game.

Player goes on and on

Gary Player has announced that he will be back to play in his 52nd Masters next year. Oh joy.

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