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Always and forever Lansdowne Road

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Nick Cullen blasts out of a trap to within a few feet in the closing round, before accepting the Masters trophy later in the day.

Lachlan Barker brings us up to date with the world of sport — including golf, soccer, motor racing and rugby.

THE BIG SPORTING EVENT for Australia over the weekend was the Masters golf, won by Nick Cullen.

Cullen peaked at the right time and came out of the chasing pack on the second tier of scoring to hit the lead mid way through the final round. Golf is all about temperament, and holding your nerve when the pressure goes on, and Cullen did this throughout Sunday afternoon to get home by a stroke over a group of three, James Nitties, Josh Younger and marquee player, Adam Scott.

Scott was, until August this year, the world’s number one ranked golfer, so Cullen can don the Golden Jacket, awarded to the winner of the Masters, knowing he is a deserved winner.

The final day started with Paul Spargo in the lead at 8-under, he was joined on the tee by Queenslander Michael Wright, one stroke behind. However, Wright had a final day that he would rather forget, eight over the card, and finished the tournament on in 46th place at one over.

Marquee player Scott began the day at 4-under, and showed the patience and nerve that had taken him to number one in the world. He loomed steadily throughout the day, but just couldn’t find that last stroke needed to take things to a playoff.

I personally developed a sporting affinity for Lucas Herbert. Herbert is an amateur, and so as I looked at the scoreboard and saw the ‘(AM)’ after his name, my interest was piqued, and I was wondering what an amateur is doing in such august and high-earning sporting circles.

Turns out ‒ if my Facebook researches have not led me astray ‒ that Herbert is an amateur because he is only 18-years-old and has only recently completed high school. His future looks bright. Herbert fired in a scorching 65 in his third round to start the final day at 6-under. Due to his low score, he teed off late on the Sunday and was paired with the eventual winner, Cullen. He moved to 8-under at one point in the final round, but dropped strokes on the back nine and finished at 5-under.

Herbert showed a brilliant temperament for the game and was not overawed in the big company he was in. I also found it endearing that young Herbert was continually giving congratulatory fist bumps to Cullen each time Cullen had played a good shot, or hole. Australia can use more gentleman sportsmen like this.

The advertising was ‒ as usual ‒ offensive, the Masters was sponsored by a gambling company and the product placement was (as usual) torrential. I checked with the FreeTV code of practice and indeed there is a loophole for gambling, as there is for alcohol in the code, allowing these filthy promotions on the screen if they are part of a sports program and so we will be suffering them for some time yet.

However, there was a twist of distaste this time, as one of the players in the tournament, Ryan Ruffels, is only 16 years old. The gambling age in Australia is 18. Thus, you had a tournament promoting gambling, with someone below the legal age of gambling involved. None of us can know what these destructive companies pay to sponsor these sports, but it’s clearly a lot.

One can’t help but ask:

‘Surely there’s a remotely decent sponsor willing to pay?’

The fight goes on.

Thankfully for me and my sanity the women’s soccer came on the ABC at 3pm Sunday afternoon and so I was able to gain a measure of peace watching the Adelaide Lady Reds play the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Just for the record, the South Australians are officially known as the ‘Lady Reds’; I don’t know if that’s politically correct, but that’s what they’re called, so I’ll use the official term.

The match was an exciting affair, with end-to-end attack and counter-attack providing great spectacle. The match ended 2-2, and it was good to see both teams come away with something.

Adelaide opened the scoring in the third minute through Emily Condon and, as ever, in soccer, an early goal opens up the match for real excitement with the opposition having to go hard early for the equaliser. This the Wanderers did in the 27th minute from the penalty spot, duly converted by Keelin Winters and the score was 1-1 at half time.

The lead changed in the 62nd minute with the Wanderers going ahead 2-1, again from the penalty spot, again Winters slotting the kick. However, the Reds didn’t give the game away and scored in the 72nd minute through Alexandra Chidiac, to give the final readout of 2-2.

It was a good game, but I think I also enjoyed it so much because it was on the eternally calming ad-free ABC. Unfortunately, we heard yesterday that this excellent sport coverage is a devastating casualty of the budget cuts made to the ABC by the Abbott Government.

Thanks Tony. Thanks Malcolm.

Also this weekend saw the running of the second Formula E ePrix on the street circuit at Putrajaya Malaysia. The event was won by Briton Sam Bird of Virgin Racing. Winner of the inaugural event in China, Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi, of Audi Sport ABT was second and third was Swiss driver, Sébastien Buemi for e.dams-Renault.

Once again, the electric beasts circulated with eminently respectable racing speeds of 225 kph (140mph).

And, in a final note on the sadly rampant nature of commercialisation destroying sport (in my opinion), the Wallabies played their second test of their northern hemisphere tour on Sunday morning, Australian time, against Ireland.

The Irish won 26-23 in a tightly fought tussle, but it was the ground name that near broke my heart. The Irish play their international rugby fixtures in Dublin, at Lansdowne Road, however, the stadium on this site was redeveloped in 2007, and a sponsor was given naming rights in 2009 for ten years.

I don’t know what this company does, or care, but the Irish have, do and always will, play at Lansdowne Road for me.

Lachlan Barker blogs at cyclonecharlie88.blogspot.com.au. You can follow him on Twitter @cyclonecharlie8.

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