April 13, 2008

Invitational means "you ain't invited...capise?"

English is not an intelligent language when you think about it. There are no tone marks to tell you how to pronounce a word (unlike Vietnamese, French and Spanish to name but a few), you have words which are spelt almost identically, yet pronounced very differently and no way to know this except to know it.

For reference, I cite "daughter & laughter", "good & food".

However, one word seems to be quite simple and clear Ė "Invitational" - which implies an event requiring an invitation from the organiser.

As I mentioned before, one of the things which makes the Masterís tournament special is the fact that it is an "invitational" event. This means that if the organisers donít want you there, you arenít gonna be there, no matter who you are.

It the Lords of Augusta decided that they didnít want Tiger Woods to participate because he wins it too often, then Tiger would not be invited to play and there is nothing he or anyone could do about it. Itís a simple enough concept really...

Unfortunately, here in Vietnam, the concept of an "invitational tournament" is somewhat alien, as evidenced by some wanna-be participants before the Norfolk Invitational tournament last weekend.

The Masters has strict criteria which lets people know, in a somewhat transparent way, who will most likely be participating and who has as much chance as a snowball in Hell of getting through the gates, because, even if you qualify for a slot in the Masters, you could still be left off the list for some other transgression which you donít remember doing, but caught the attention of the Lords of Augusta.

Pity the fool.

Other Invitational events are somewhat more relaxed, but still have basic criteria on who will be invited and who probably will not be attending. If itís a corporate event, like the Norfolk tournament, then the invitees will most likely be long term residents in one of the Norfolk Group properties, suppliers, business partners and associates and other people who have a private or professional relationship with the company.

The problem is that the prizes are too good and the event is always well-run, so people, who have no reason to ever expect an invitation, still try to pull whatever strings they can find to get in.

The Norfolk Group takes great pride in the continued success of the tournament, but admits they have to hide for a few days beforehand to avoid people trying to pressure their way into the event. They hate turning people down, but the fact is the event is held for legitimate business reasons and they sticks to their principles.

To borrow a phrase from The Godfather..."Hey, it ainít personal, itís just business..."

Ok, as mentioned, I flew south to HCMC to attend the event, despite severe physical pain, and was hoping for just a little luck on the par threes as there were FOUR BMW hole-in-one prizes. Unfortunately something very strange happened which not only reinforces my belief in the Almighty, but also my belief that G-d does indeed watch everything we do and say on a golf course.

Every time my group approached the Par 3 tees...BLAM! It would rain like hell and I am talking Biblical proportions. The greens looked like rivers and I think the local animals were beginning to pair off together...

However, when we approached the last Par 3, the sun was shining, which made me suspicious that a plague of locusts awaited, until I realised that nothing was required on that particular tee because even G-d knows the odds of me actually making an ace on that particular hole would be off the charts anyway.

Needless to say, I still drive a Ford Escape...and dream of BMWs.

OK, the Masters will get underway 12 hours from the time of this writing, so let me make my first prediction of the year of who will win a major...

Well, Rory Sabatini would be a safe bet to not win as he won the Par Three tournament earlier in the week and everyone knows that nobody wins both in one year. Besides, every time he opens his mouth, Tiger seems to ratchet up his game another notch for spite.

So, Iíll pick Phil Mickelson to win.


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