Kaufman Blog: A summer to behold

Mon 05 Aug 2013

Kaufman Blog: A summer to behold

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By Richard Kaufman
What a wonderful summer of sport in the U.K. I have been privileged to witness. Watching history in the making as a Briton finally wins Wimbledon and commentating on a fantastic Open Championship.
And soon, I will be off to Colorado in America to see if Europe’s women golfers can win on U.S. soil for the first time at the Solheim Cup.
Wimbledon is always a fun event for me. It’s the one time of the year I cover tennis and every day there seemed to be a more startling story as the likes of Federer and Nadal and Williams and Sharapova fell by the wayside.
And it all culminated in Andy Murray becoming the first British player since the year my dad was born to win in south London.
It’s funny from my standpoint to see how the public react to sports people. Everyone has an opinion on people they don’t really know. I suppose it goes with the territory of sports stars being celebrities.
Murray is a good example. Without trying to generalise too much, many English people treated Murray with a sense of diffidence. Their argument was he was dour, bad tempered, scruffy.
Part of it came down to the fact that he said (jokingly) he would cheer for anyone but England at the football World Cup. It took a burst of tears after losing to Federer a year ago and a TV documentary showing how he can be off the court for that attitude to change.
And it probably helped winning Wimbledon. Everybody loves a winner and when he goes through a bad spell again, no doubt his detractors will once again come to the fore. British tennis fans should just enjoy him. We may never witness another like him.
Which brings me back to golf.
At the Open, I sensed a media agenda to focus on negative reporting of Rory McIlroy. The Rory I have met (albeit briefly) is a charming young man and a massive talent. He has won two majors at the age of 24 – the last just 12 months ago.
Even in Ireland where he has been adored, Rory is now seen by some as getting too big for his boots! Yes, his form has suffered. But soon enough the British media will be lapping up his next major victory because it will come.
To question his dedication, to try and blame his tennis playing girlfriend is ludicrous. He is a young man growing up and learning. Fame is not easy to deal with and some sports stars have suffered. If Rory’s biggest problem is that he has a long term girlfriend, then coupled with an amazing golf game, he will achieve more than most in the game.
It wasn’t a great Open for Rory but it was for Shiv Kapur. To lead the Open at one stage and to make the cut should give Shiv the belief that he has the game to compete at a high level.
After Anirban Lahiri’s heroics a year earlier, it has been the Indian players who have been shining at the oldest major of them all. It’s strange how Asian golfers are still perceived in general. I think it’s fair to say they don’t get that much respect.
But while the sight of a player from Asia leading a major has been rare so far, I really believe in the decades to come, it will become a regular occurrence. The performance of Hideki Matsuyama highlights the emergence of the next generation and look how well Kiradech Aphibarnrat performed at Firestone. These players show they belong.
It’s fair to say Asian golfers get plenty of respect in the women’s game. They dominate, especially those from Korea. For some, then, the Solheim Cup in Colorado is not the true showpiece for ladies golf. True, most of the most successful players in recent years will be absent. But I don’t care. I love the format, it always produces. I was at the recent Causeway trophy between Singapore and Malaysia.
I have been to recent Ryder Cups and the Curtis Cup. And the last Solheim Cup in Ireland was one of the most exciting day’s sports I have seen. There is some big talent amongst the 24 players on show and given what I’ve already salivated over this summer, maybe I’m going to watch and talk about yet another piece of history.