Golf watchers welcomed the news that Channel Ten had taken over the broadcast of the sport’s major championships from perennial underperformer Channel Nine but the celebrations have been shortlived.

For Ten’s coverage — or non-coverage may be more apt — of the Masters last weekend was borderline lamentable. For the telecast seemed to revolve around squeezing a bit of golf in between a torrent of commercials, sometimes up to eight at a time. And if you missed the details about the new long-distance golf ball, or luxury sedan car, then fear not: the ad was bound to reappear on the screen about five minutes later, and every five minutes after that.

On Sunday morning, just after Australian Stuart Appleby finished his courageous third round and led the Masters after 54 holes by one shot, Ten crossed to a greenside interview with Appleby conducted by the American host broadcaster. Appleby began to answer the second question put to him when, bang, Channel ten cut him off midstride and headed to its scheduled program, the totally unmissable Totally Wild . So much for a bit of flexibility up in the program director’s office.

A pat on the back, however, for the deserving winner of the Masters, American Zac Johnson, a born-again Christian who is a friend and fellow attendee of the tour’s bible class with Australia’s Aaron Baddeley.

In compiling his winning round on Sunday, Johnson shelved his ego and laid up on the two par fives on the back nine, the 13th and 15th, contrary to the accepted macho wisdom which says you must try to reach both greens in two shots. Anything less and you’re a pansy, tainted for life like the American Chip Beck who in a showdown with eventual winner Bernhard Langer in 1993 laid up on the 15th and has never lived it down.

Johnson not only avoided trouble on the two water holes, he made a birdie on the 13th and par on the 15th proving that discretion is indeed the better part of valour.

Cricket’s World Cup in the West Indies will in years to come be held up as a shining example of how not to run a major sporting event. Ticket prices have been woefully out of whack with what the average West Indian can afford, robbing the tournament of much-needed local colour, and the format of the competition has been so drawn out that the cup has totally lost momentum and almost run out of puff.

Players and former players, such as Matthew Hayden and Steve Waugh, have lined up to voice their disapproval at the running of what should have been an international celebration of the one-day game.

The West Indies have played once in the past 18 days, Australia on average every six days. The waits between marquee matches have been interminable, and interest has waned accordingly. The ICC will be fervently hoping the semi-finals and final provide enough tension and drama to turn around the bad press of the past month.

In fact, the ICC brains trust would do well to convene a meeting straight after the final in Barbados on April 28, lock themselves away for a day and work out why the tournament has degenerated into such a yawn-fest. And they could start by making sure television is never again allowed to dominate scheduling in the way it has in these past few weeks where just one game a day has been played through the Super Eights stage.

It’s not open season on West Coast, but sometimes it just feels like that. The beleaguered (off the field, anyway) Perth club just keeps doing things that win it no friends. They might be undefeated in their opening two matches of the AFL season but, in the PR stakes, the Eagles are shoo-ins for the wooden spoon.

The club rolled out assistant coach Tony Micale last week to talk about the club’s injured players. Of special interest was the condition of Dean Cox, perhaps the best ruckman in the league, who had missed the first round with a thigh strain. (He was picked by the Eagles for that game as well, but predictably did not take his place.)

Well, asked the reporters at training on Wednesday, will Cox be playing this weekend against Collingwood? “Yes, we will line up as named,” said Micale confidently. But the eagle-eyed scribes had been monitoring training closely and saw that Cox hadn’t once kicked with his preferred right foot. Surely, they said to Micale, he won’t be playing if he can’t kick properly three days before the match. “He has just been complying with a program we set him for this week, and we are happy with his progress,” Micale insisted. “Coxy very rarely kicks with his right foot at training anyway, as do a number of players. We are confident…but are just being cautious.

“He is named in the side and that is the way we will go. If you look at our whole training it was a reasonably relaxed training session.”

Well, good one, Tone. Of course Cox didn’t end up playing. Thigh strains take two or three weeks to heal, at a minimum, and one wonders how many people Micale and the club fooled with this amateur-hour production. As if the opposition – Collingwood, in this case, coached by two former West Coast stalwarts Mick Malthouse and Guy McKenna – wouldn’t have known Cox was unfit to play.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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