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The Pink Panther at Augusta

I spent yesterday walking the course at the Masters, following my former student Jonathan Byrd (economics, not golf!), who had a bad day (+7). Those memories will fade - that was Jonathan's 3rd round of golf after returning from hip surgery. They say you can't "find your game at Augusta, you'd better come there with it." Add the rounds of Byrd, Mike Weir (+7) and Tiger Woods (+3) to the pile of evidence.

But what created a buzz throughout the course was Jonathan's playing partner, Ian Poulter, who was decked out in pink. Poulter, from England, wore pink pants. And a pink visor. And Adidas golf shoes with pink stripes! Poulter had previously shown up for the TPC, the "5th major," with his spiked hair died red. It turns out the colors were a tribute to Arsenal Football Club (dude's ok!).

What to make of the pink outfit? I figured he was taking a page from Jesper Parnevik's book: wear garish clothes, get some publicity, and sign a marketing deal. Wearing pink is a guaranteed attention-getter. But how would this go down with the traditionalists that run Augusta? The English papers were full of rumors this week that Hootie Johnson had served notice to Poulter that he tone it down. On the record, Poulter pays homage to the tournament, and says that "It's all got a bit out of hand. I haven't had a letter from him. And Hootie Johnson hasn't said anything to me. As far as I know he hasn't got any problem with me in any shape or form."

But the boys were having fun with it. From the Telegraph:

On Wednesday night, Charles Howell, one of the tour's practical jokers, had used his southern drawl to impersonate a member of Augusta's championship committee. Having dialed Poulter, he told the Englishman that word had reached the committee that he was not planning to be as soberly clad as they would wish.

Poulter, who was completely taken in, had a question for the official. "What about Doug Sanders?" he asked, in a reference to the garish dress of the runner-up in the 1970 Open.

"We weren't happy about that, either," returned Howell. So the conversation continued until Howell decided enough was enough on the eve of the player's first Masters.

After watching him for eighteen holes, I can confidently tell you that the young man's got game. He was hitting the crispest and most accurate irons in his threesome. Save the one that flew over my head and landed in the gallery forty yards right of the 11th green. (He was a great sport about that, by the way). Poulter has a chance to make some noise in the big tournaments. If you are intrigued, this Guardian story on Poulter is the most informative I've found. He's quite a character.