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CBS coverage feels too cheesy to be Masterful

This weekend I had an interesting idea for a new soap opera. It went something like this:

Trapped in paradise, 50-some-odd anonymous white men, most stricken with pattern baldness and Gus Burger guts, a boy wonder named Tiger and a Fiji native exorcise life's frustrations by beating a little white ball senseless.

I could already hear the cash register cha-chinging. Then reality dealt me a cruel blow: My titillating teledrama already exists. It's called "The Masters" on CBS.

Maybe I've been stuck in a vacuum, or perhaps I'm a victim of the Austin Powers freezing process, but the last time I checked, golf was merely a sport - one played with metal and wooden sticks, a grooved sphere affectionately known as a "ball" and a hole the size of a donkey's IQ in which to hit that "ball."

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    Not on CBS, however. The network portrays men in mid-life crises hacking their way through luscious Augusta greenery as American heroes.

    In reality, these contestants are nothing more than real men with real receding hairlines.

    Wasn't it just a tad overdone when Vijay Singh sunk a putt to claim the Green Jacket and Jim Nantz gushed, "It's still so remarkable to me that a young man can come from an island nation and bring it all the way to golf's highest level - from Fiji to Georgia?"

    Note to Nantz: Singh may make a pretty decent rags-to-riches story, but he's no David Copperfield.

    I guess Nantz wasn't listening to me, because he wasn't finished.

    At least five times he reminded the audience how Singh's young son Cass had taped a message to his father's bag that read, "Papa, trust your swing."

    Shouldn't this kid be in the sandbox with the other third graders instead of dissecting papa's short game?

    Singh wasn't the only gladiator immortalized on this most emotional of Sundays, where fathers and sons shed a tear and share a Kleenex.

    Sergio Garcia played the enthusiastic babe to Singh's hardened vet, gamboling gleefully from green to green, scissor-kicking like Petr Korda after every shot.

    Garcia's passion for the game manifests itself in his motions, but do Nantz and the Duke of Drama, Dick Enberg, have to attach the words "youthful exuberance" to every description of "El Niño?"

    And let's put this in perspective: Garcia is only 20. Shouldn't he be chasing girls and destroying his body with alcohol and tobacco like every other adolescent his age?

    Ernie Els served as Singh's bridesmaid, so close yet so far from victory. The Green Jacket wouldn't fit the South African on this Sunday, but a couple of corny one-liners certainly would.

    "His driver back home won the lottery last night," Nantz informed us in tones so hushed I had to crank my TV volume to 37 and still thought he had bronchitis. "But it looks like no sweepstakes for Ernie Els this year."

    Finally there's the course itself. While Augusta National is undoubtedly a gorgeous site, manicured and pedicured by a mammoth maintenance crew, I didn't know it could come alive.

    But boy was I wrong - a testament to the power of Enberg's personification - as the journalistic giant breathed spirit into 18 deader-than-doornail holes with his legendary cheesiness.

    "Dressed in brilliant colors, groomed impeccably, standing elegantly, its fickle, fickle force repelled the world's best, reducing mere mortals to a weary wink," Enberg crowed.

    You'd think God made Augusta on the First Day and everything else a couple weeks later.

    One must assume that, after penning an uncensored diatribe like this, I must detest CBS.

    Actually, I don't at all. If we didn't have CBS, we wouldn't have "Becker" or "Donny and Marie" or, better yet, Dan Rather. In fact, I'm so infatuated with the company that I'm working there this summer.

    Or at least I hope I still am.

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