While the rest focus on the World Cup, the Yanks are drooling over Pebble Beach
NO doubt the World Cup is a very big deal but we delude ourselves if we believe the entire sporting planet is closely watching our every move.
The North Americans, for instance, are not engaged in the vuvuzela debate nor do they care how much we spent on stadiums nor will they even wonder where someone found enough shiny grey material to make that vast suit for Diego Maradona (at least a million poor little polyesters died in that particular cause).
As usual, the Yanks are in their own parallel sporting universe.
A few might have paid attention to the US game yesterday but most still think Slovenia is a town in North Dakota because they only had eyes for the climax to the basketball season as historic rivals the Boston Celtics and the LA Lakers took the championship series to a winner-takes-all seventh game.
When they got over that excitement, they would choose between the Yankees playing the Phillies in a regular season re-run of last year’s baseball World Series, this weekend’s NASCAR racing from somewhere called Sonoma or the US Open golf at Pebble Beach.
The latter I can really understand as Pebble Beach provides one of the world’s greatest sporting backdrops.
As with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Tour de France, you spend as much time watching the scenery as you do the competitors.
It’s an astounding place with no less than seven courses in one tiny slice of a spectacular part of Californian coast.
Even though the town itself is entirely privately owned by a company whose main shareholders include Clint Eastwood and Arnie Palmer, the courses are all public.
Anyone can play them. Well, anyone who can afford the $495 green fee for the Open venue plus an obligatory two-night hotel stay at a minimum of $1,200.
Those prices killed any thoughts I had of taking on the signature 17th hole during a visit there a long while ago but I did walk past that dramatic cliff-top green where Tom Watson chipped in to steal the 1982 US Open from Jack Nicklaus – a gripping moment which is in my personal kyk weer video bank (something every sports obsessive possessed in the days before YouTube).
I was always a Watson fan and relished his occasional triumphs over the Golden Bear.
Which begs the question, why? Loyalties are weird things. Obviously we support Ernie and anyone else carrying our flag on their bag but why do I also want Mickelson, Harrington, McIlroy or Garcia to win this Open while hoping that Woods, Singh, Stricker and Westwood will miss the cut?
Actually I do know why I want Lee Westwood to fail.
As the leader going into the final round of this year’s Masters, the Englishman knew full well he would spend most of that Sunday on my TV screen yet he chose to wear a nasty fireman-red shirt matched with white trousers, white belt and white shoes.
That horrendous “Abba/ used-car salesman” look cost him my sympathy for evermore.