TV View: Butch Harmon on top form as the best battle Augusta
While Phil Mickelson baffled, Shane Lowry had Harmon purring from his Las Vegas home
Phil Mickelson reacts after his shot on the second hole during day two of the Masters at Augusta National. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Day Two at Augusta and Sky’s Ewen Murray lost the pun of himself while describing the tournament leader’s experience through his first round and a half. “The big story on day one was Justin Rose among the azaleas and dogwoods, and it was a blooming Rose over the first 18,” he said, “but the Rose has wilted over the front nine today.”
There was no need to give Justin a peony for his thoughts either, the shake of the head and his rolling eyes revealing them all after the latest of his bogeys, the greens, once again, leaving the contenders tearing their hair out. And in Tommy Fleetwood’s case, that’s a time-consuming task.
Few had a more frustrating day than Phil Mickelson who, after his opening round of 75, we might have thought would put his petal to the metal. Instead, he had Butch Harmon saying “you’re kidding me” after roughly 66 per cent of his shots.
Granted, Butch says “you’re kidding me” quite a lot, in good times and bad, but Phil had him bewildered. “Something’s not right in his head,” he concluded when yet another tee shot threatened the safety of the patrons. But still, despite his struggles, Butch wasn’t giving up on him. “You know he will fight and grind, scrap and claw.”
Which pretty much summed up Shane Lowry’s day.
After his stellar opening round, our man only went and dropped three shots in his first two holes, by then looking like someone who felt he had made the wrong sporting choices in his life, wishing he was back home illegally training with the Offaly footballers in Tullamore.
“Oh no - no, no, no, no, no, not where you want to be, Shane,” Butch gasped on one occasion when our man ended up in a bunker at the side of the green, before playing out of it so deliciously Butch was left purring, in an “oh yes - yes, yes, yes, yes” sort of way. Kind of like when Sally met Harry.
“Atta boy, Shane,” said Butch, as we did all.
But his round was the mother, father, aunty, uncle, granny and grandad of rollercoasters, which probably mirrors mere mortal golfing people’s experience of the sport. If anything, they should be thanking our governmental overlords from stopping them playing this weather, their stress levels probably 66 per cent lower than usual.
You couldn’t, then, but conclude that Masters-watching is way more leisurely and soothing when you’re not patriotically invested in one of the players, Shane’s Friday leaving you in need of a visit to a health farm, emotions shredded.
Back to Phil and even though he was still kidding Butch with some wayward shots, often finding himself marooned behind trees (as Andrew Coltart put it, “it’s like trying to hit the ball through the gaps in a fork”), he was hanging in there. “He’s a fighter, isn’t he,” said Nick Dougherty. “He could be playing a game of chess with you and he’d want to cut your neck off,” said Butch, admiringly.
Butch, incidentally, would probably quite like to cut the neck off Covid-19 for having him co-commentating on the Masters from his house, rather than Augusta, which led to some viewers complaining about the delay in his observations, eg “ATTA BOY ROSIE” in or around eight seconds after Justin Rosie’s ball had fallen in to the hole. But look, a delay in Butch’s commentary is not the worst aspect of a pandemic, so sort your grip out, we can cope.
Besides, Rosie deserved an “atta boy” for the mighty manner in which he battled back from his early woes, finishing where he started, at seven under. And when he spoke to Sky’s Cara Banks, he had the look of a man who would cut your neck off for two more similar rounds. Although we can’t say his eyes had a steely look about them because they were smothered by his very large Morgan Stanley cap. Isn’t golf sponsorship gas?
Another contender merited his salute from Butch too. “Atta boy Bernd,” he said after the Wiesberger fella posted a tasty round of 66. And there we were thinking Austria only produced handy downhill skiers and Formula One drivers.
Round three? All set. Let the fighting, grinding, scrapping and clawing commence. Atta boys.