Armchair Reporter: Let's be thankful for Ken's loyalty to BBC

Is Jordan Spieth versus Rory McIlroy the latest sporting super match-up?
Picture by AP 
Paul McConville

ALI v Foreman, McEnroe v Borg, Denman v Kauto Star. All big sporting rivalries which intrigued, excited and, most importantly, delivered on the hype created. Ever since Rory McIlroy cosied up to Jordan Spieth at the top of The Masters leaderboard on Friday night, we were told by as many people as we cared to listen to that another enduring sporting rivalry was blossoming.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the BBC as they began their live Masters coverage on moving day. Spieth v McIlroy was the last group, due off around 7.50pm. The countdown was on, although thankfully they didn’t go all Sky on us and have a clock in the corner of the screen. The Beeb would never do something like that. A bit of Rachel Riley wouldn’t have been out of place though.

Of course, with everyone bigging up this fresh new rivalry, a new era in the game, two vibrant young men at the top of their profession, there was only one thing for Peter Aliss to do – start banging on about stuff that happened 50 years ago. Okay, it’s nice to remember the past greats and their exploits, but do we really need to know that the club pro at Sandwich hit a lovely two-iron into the 10th green in the 1967 Open.

On this occasion, the reminiscing was relatively more recent as an actual bona fide Major winner and pint-sized champion, Guinness guzzler Ian Woosnam, was there to look back on his Masters win of 1991. Peter gushed, Woosie blushed and, as is inevitable when you put people on swivel chairs on live TV, each of them rocked rather annoyingly from side to side.

Not Hazel Irvine though. Hazel is a pro and was at the top of her game long before our Rory was chipping balls into a washing machine. Sadly, the much-billed rivalry didn’t materialise, due partly to Spieth playing Peter Edbon to Rory’s Ronnie O’Sullivan - Hazel must have really felt at home.

Although the BBC is clinging on desperately to the last little bits of top class sport they can, they do provide a sobering alternative to Sky. Okay, Sky have all the gizmos and non-swivelling chairs, but they don’t have Ken Brown.

Ken brings the personal touch to golf analysis. There’s no 3D models of holes or those life-sized holograms of players, stood in front of a slightly awkward and unnerved Butch Harmon like something out of Star Wars.

What Ken has is unrivalled enthusiasm. He’s a golf nerd and he doesn’t care who knows it. Perched on the side of a fairway with a notebook and pen, sketching where the best positions shot are to be taken from, he doesn’t rely on virtual reality, he happily deals in actual reality. In the words of Bob Dylan, ‘you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows’ – that’s because you’ve got Ken Brown with flags on extended poles held high in the air.

Want to know how a green’s playing? You don’t need Butch or Monty gazing at something out of Tiger Woods PGA (remember when he used to do the computer games?), you just need Ken to chuck a few balls along the dancefloor.

Meanwhile, over on Sky, Paul McGinley is gawking at a big hologram of Rory McIlroy which seems to be saying “Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope….that and a big dump of rain.”


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