Yes, it’s time to brag. People from my little part of the world yet again managed to take the big prize away from the fancied ones. That little country way down South in Africa. Beating up the big boys in their own backyard. At their own game. Again.
Trevor Immelman has won the Masters. Now remember. This was when everyone was talking about Tiger winning the Slam – all four in one year. I heard it all week. Tiger this and Tiger that. And I thought to myself, thank you guys, you just pissed off the South Africans. Got them all nicely worked up for counting them out.
But Trevor isn’t just any player out there. This guy had a tumour removed in December – from his back He missed eight weeks of golf. And missed the cut before the Masters. Just the kind of thing that South Africans like. Come from nowhere and beat up the big boys. At their own game. In their own backyard. Way to go Trevor.
Oh, forgot to add. He is also a homeboy. From the same city as me. I know that means something. Just not sure what. Because I stink at golf.
Some are saying it was a boring game. That Tiger and the rest just never did much to try and catch him. That he won because others played badly. Firstly, it is golf – it is boring. A bunch of guys walking in the park hitting a little white ball. Yeah, real exciting stuff. Secondly, it is golf – it is boring. Oh wait, I have said that already. Point is he won. He doesn’t pump his fist. He doesn’t shout and scream. And he doesn’t jump through hoops. He just wins. That was a pretty straight forward plan. Just win and get the job done. Well executed. Trevor, you made us proud. Even if it was playing a silly game.
But we have other guys playing this park-walking game. Ernie Els have won a few majors. And so did Retief Goosen. I won’t even go back to Gary Player who won all four majors. I’ll stick to our guys of today. And we have a few others playing well over the years. In fact, we had 7 players in the Top 100 in 2007. Not bad for a little country down there in Africa hey?
We pretty much punch above our weight in almost every sport in the world that doesn’t involve ice or snow. Sorry, it hardly ever gets cold enough for us to wear a sweater – never mind trying to play a sport on something that should go with a brandy and coke (ooh, that is too South African even for me). But we have a few world record holders and champions in swimming – from Roland Schoeman who dominated the short distances to Suzaan van Biljon who just broke another world record.
And we dominate world rugby – guess who’s the world champions? Yep, you guessed it – South Africa. And who do you think is ranked as the best One Day International cricket team? Sorry, not prizes for this one. It’s South Africa. Okay, we suffer a bit in soccer at the moment. But we have a number of world class players all over the world. From Benni McCarthy playing for Blackburn to Steven Pienaar playing for Everton. And Jomo Sono is without a doubt one of the most gifted players to ever have played the beautiful game.
So, whenever we give it a shot we manage to do pretty damn well. Hey, we even break records when we didn’t aim to play a specific sport. Look at old Gary Anderson, kicker extraordinaire in the NFL and one of only three men to play in 300 games in an NFL career, has played in the league from 1982 until he retired in 2003. He leads all NFL players with 2 133 points over his 20-year career, and holds the incredible record of going through an entire season – 1998 – without missing a single kick, making 94 out of 94 shots at goal. First player to have a perfect season making every field goal and PAT in a regular season. And he went over on a soccer scholarship…
We don’t play basketball – that’s just netball that is not played by men back in South Africa. We don’t play baseball because that’s for people who can’t play cricket. But we do have the world’s netball superstar – Irene van Dyk. Oh no, hang on a minute. She fell for the old money trick. New Zealand sucked at netball and needed a player that could put them on the map. So they bought Irene. She now plays for them – as a Kiwi… But just listen to her speak man. She ain’t no Kiwi.
And a few other sport stars have done the same. Allen Lamb was a superstar for England in cricket. He is South African. Their current best player, Kevin Pietersen, is from South Africa. And what about Mike Catt the rugby player? South African. But don’t worry, we don’t mind. We know they move over, join the club, take the money, and then they come home. They know and we know they are South African.
Sometimes we face a few “challenges” but still refuse to give up. Take old Oscar Pistorius, the fastest man on no legs. Not even running with no legs can stop him from trying to get to the Olympics. Okay, the warped rules of the IOC can, but nothing else would. Or Natalie du Toit. She has broken so many world records in swimming since she lost her legs it’s just not funny anymore. Or Ernst van Dyk who keeps on pushing the boundaries in wheelchair racing. Breaking one record after the other. Yes, even when you take something away from us we find new ways to dominate.
Back to Trevor and Tiger. You know why Trevor won? Because there are no tigers in Africa. When the lion roars, the tigers run. The world made the mistake by play with the lion’s… hum… sensitive area… And when the lion decides it’s time then it’s time.
Psst, let me tell you a little secret on how to get a South African to wake up the lion. Just tell them it isn’t possible to do something. Man, nothing annoys a South African more than someone telling them something can’t be done. They get all worked up. And they won’t stop until they get it done. That’s the secret. Just tell them it can’t be done. And then they will do it. So thanks for telling the world that Tiger can’t be beaten. That was just what we wanted to hear. You saw the result, right?
And South African supporters are even worse than the actual players. They will defend their team or sportsperson until the end – and then a bit further. It’s never the fault of the South African if we lose – no it’s the ref. Always the ref.
It reminds me of my dad a bit. You know we didn’t get along. In fact, he was an ass. But I remember when I was just a little boy sitting with him watching a boxing match. Now my dad was a hardened racist. He hated all black South Africans. Including his own blood family… But anyway, we were watching this fight between a white Englishman and a black South African. And guess who my dad was cheering for? Yep, you guessed it – the black South African. I must have been six or seven. I looked at him and asked him, “Dad, why are you supporting the black guy? You hate all black people don’t you?” My dad stared at me for a while as if I was asking a dumb question. And then he said, “Of course. But he is South African. And us South African always stick together”.
South Africans. Aah, good old South Africans. We might not make sense most of the time, but just tell us we can’t possibly do a certain something and we’ll prove you wrong and do it. Just tell us the other guy will win the match and we’ll lower our heads and beat the living hell out of you on the sports field. It’s not much. But it is someting to brag about.
Tiger, remember the roar of the lion and remember – there are no Tigers in Africa.
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