The Masters is pure TV gold (and green, yellow, pink, purple) as Augusta National bursts into life
07:36 GMT, 9 April 2012
Being one of the most exciting competitions in sport is not a bad start, but for those people for whom you'd need a set of bolt cutters to drag them away from the TV coverage of The Masters, there is clearly something other than just the action that is special about the season's first major.
And that would surely have to be the National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia itself.
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It's a unique place that provides a pallet of colours unmatched in any kind of tournament; a vivid mixture of shades of green, bright blue sky, marble white pools of bunkers, rich teak undergrowth – all of which is frequently projected back at us on mirrored sheets of water.
Not only that, but as Sky Sports eminently sage-like commentator Ewen Murray pointed out during the first round on Thursday: 'As the sun comes out it's absolutely fantastic. Flower beds of spectators all over the place. The colours. The noise, because it's all enclosed in these pine trees. It's a very special setting.'
It is indeed picture perfect stuff to fit in the frame of your TV set, often with compositions that those other Masters, of brush and paint, would be proud of.
On day one at the 13th tee, Man In Black Phil Mickelson was set perfectly in cameo against an effervescently verdant landscape with a border of fluttering leaves along the bottom of the screen, tall pines flanking either side, and off in the distance a winding fairway.
If Michelangelo ever enjoyed a quick nine holes before getting back to work on the Sistine Chapel, he might well have had a dabble at this scene.
Pure emotion: Watson bursts into tears after winning The Masters
Of course these pictures are provided by the US host broadcaster, but brought to us here for the outward holes by Sky alone, then for the back 36, in tandem with the BBC.
Which is where, if you have the choice, it gets tough. Do you go Constable, or Gainsborough
Well, clearly it has been Sky's advantage on quantity, with coverage right there whenever the organisers let the broadcaster point a live camera at a golfer.
Supplementing that was their highlights show – Masters Breakfast – from a 'virtual Augusta' – which has been fine for catching up on the action, but with some seriously protractor-and-slide rule chat in between, is one for the serious golf geek.
Not that I'm saying there hasn't been the quality to go with Sky's man hours, though (not least of which, the theme music – James Brown's brilliant big band version of 'Georgia On My Mind').
What a setting: Louis Oosthuizen on the 16th on Sunday
In the aforementioned Murray and Bruce Critchley, they have two men who know perfectly well how to get a man round a golf course in one piece.
Also Butch Harmon is their Angelo Dundee for insight into the game – coupled with a face and voice that has also clearly put the hard yards in – while Colin Montgomerie has proved himself a pundit who can really analyse the game from all angles, while also having the lights and shades of speech that make him a natural broadcaster.
All of which was fine and dandy until about 8.25pm on Saturday when Sky launched into a great long promo that screamed they were doing The Masters with bells on…just minutes before Hazel Irvine took a casual stroll down past a gleaming white clapboard house and basically said: 'It's okay. Auntie's here. And we haven't got any ad breaks.'
Ah, ooh, well, so.. it's Peter Allis, and Co.
Wayne Grady chuckled: 'You're good at this, Allis.'
Mr Allis replied: 'Well, I used to play a bit.'
A thing of beauty: The sun starts to set on another thrilling Masters
And that was it. I was back in. He can at times be given to curmudgeon ('don't know what they're trying to prove but that's ludicrous' he grumbled as a near perfect Justin Rose approach stopped, then rolled gently back into water), but you know he knows golf, you know he loves golf, and you know he knows how to talk golf.
And with Ken Brown in tow like a boundlessly enthusiastic overgrown teenager who gets to prowl the course and expose its hidden secrets (on Sunday evening, with the help of a ruler shoved down the back of his watch and a banana!) as well as Andrew Cotter, you have a formidable team; one that was enhanced even further when Rose – absolutely in tune with what was happening out there – hot-footed it from a fine round to help out in the commentary box for a few holes as the leaders entered the back nine.
The one colour they all want: Watson is presented with the green jacket
And in the end, of course, they all had a fabulous Sunday that rippled with ebbs and flows before finishing with Bubba Watson's tears at the second extra hole.
Yet ultimately it was a day that probably pivoted on Phil Mickelson's triple bogey six on the fourth – the tee shot which drew from Allis a perfect, simple phrase that said it all, with so little.
'Crumbs almighty', he exclaimed. Amen Corner to that.
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