Masters Diary: 09/04/09

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Lyle gives Montgomerie some explaining to do

Even when Colin Montgomerie is not at a major he can still attract the headlines. Yesterday all the talk was of the Europe Ryder Cup captain's treatment of poor Sandy Lyle, the fellow Scot who Montgomerie originally declared should be Nick Faldo's successor.

The joke doing the rounds was that as Sandy plays in more majors nowadays than Monty, how come the selected committee said it was the old boy who was "out of touch" with the players? Yet Lyle was not laughing. He was clearly very upset with his countryman and one-time election agent.

"I haven't spoken to Colin or had any response at all from him since got he got the captaincy," said the 51-year-old after his practice round yesterday. "Monty now doesn't live too far from me in Scotland, and I've left messages on his phone and he just hasn't returned any of my calls. That's very disappointing.

"You know, it was pretty much a 'below-the-belt' type punch when I didn't get the captaincy. It just seemed a little unusual Colin should be appointed captain as it seemed to me a forgone conclusion that I would win it. I just couldn't think of any nasty reasons why that wouldn't happen."

Time for Montgomerie to provide an explanation. Or at the very least to pick up the blower.

Faldo hails England's best with memories of glory undimmed

Nick Faldo has been in his usual inimitable form here this week, dishing praise out to the young English brigade in Augusta at the same time as writing off the rest of his nation's sportsmen as "rubbish".

The three-time Masters champion has once again rejected the chance to play because of his summarising duties with the US broadcaster CBS, but believes that a countryman will at last fill the void dating back to his last Augusta victory 13 years ago.

"They're all playing well," said the former (losing) Ryder Cup captain, before going on to give his unique explanation as to why. "That's because English cricket, rugby and football have all gone downhill. Everything else is rubbish and the golfers have stepped in. We're very good at cycling and if the golfers are as good as the cyclists, we might well win."

Fabio Capello, whose England footballers are currently cruising towards next year's World Cup finals, might have something to say to him about that, but for now Faldo can wander around the course for which he holds an understandable affection reflecting on the 20th anniversary of his first green jacket.

He may even be sparing a thought for his opponent Scott "the Choke" Hoch who missed a three-footer for victory on the first extra hole. So with the light rapidly fading, the pair went down the 11th where Faldo ended up playing one of the best shots of his life and so almost made one of the most courageous calls of his life. "It was the best three-iron I ever hit," he said, describing the approach to one of the scariest greens in golf. "It was so dark that I didn't see the ball until I was 60 yards short of the green. I remember telling myself, 'I'm going to have to be brave here and say, 'I'm not playing on.' Imagine telling Augusta that you're not playing on. That was going to be a big decision."

As it was, Faldo somehow managed to hole the 25-footer and a major incident was averted. He still laughs about the putt that changed his life, as well as that read on the green which required a miner's lamp. "When I was lining it up I said to my caddie Andy Prodger, 'What do you think?'" recalled Faldo. "Andy replied, 'All bit of a blur to me, Guv.'"

Norman retains his touch for the tacky

Greg Norman has always had the propensity to be as naff as he can be exciting and so he proved in a recent TV interview. Rich Lerner, of the Golf Channel, was waiting to speak to the 54-year-old while he was playing tennis with his wife, Chris Evert. "When they were finished, I said to Greg, 'Hey you're pretty good and you have a fairly good teacher as well'," recounted Lerner. "With his arm around Chrissy, Greg cracked, 'Yeah, not only do I have a great instructor, but I get to sleep with her when the lesson's over as well!'" Yuck.

Daly displays sorry signs of decline

Saddest sight of the week so far has predictably been provided by John Daly. The three-time major champion has parked his truck down Washington Road and is flogging his autograph at $20 a time.

Singh savours extra bounce in practice

"Barnes Wallis", wrote Vijay Singh on the 16th on Tuesday, on skimming the ball across the water on to the green and into the hole. That's worth signing for.