News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, April 8, 2011
AUGUSTA---People from all over the world have their eyes fixed on the leaderboard at Augusta National. A lot of those names represent a lot of different countries. But it's not just the players that make things very international at the Masters Tournament.
Usually the golf course is a pretty quiet place. But if you stop and listen carefully in the crowds, you'll notice something: Accents, and a lot of them.
Paul Gray of Ireland has been watching Rory McIlroy play golf for the past 18 years. Yes, 18 years--and Rory is only 21.
"He was putting in almost professional hours of practice when he was 3 and 4 years of age, pitchin' and puttin'," Paul said.
Paul is the golf pro at the course in Belfast, Ireland where Rory's love affair with golf began. He had a front row seat as Rory developed his swing. Now, he's got a seat watching him at the Masters.
"You only had to watch him yesterday to see how he strikes the ball and plays the game," Paul said. "There's no doubt he has the game to be number one in the world."
And Rory came into today number one on the leaderboard--but it's still early.
"We've got some quality competitors this year. It's our year! Australia!" said patron Brian Harrison.
An Aussie has never won a green jacket, but you should see Brian's jacket.
"Doesn't everybody wear something like this?" he said. "You Americans invented this sort of clothing. I'm just wearing it."
And he came a long way to wear it in Augusta--or Oh-gusta, as some pronounce it.
"Well, of course we say it like the queen of England," laughed Helen Roberts. "We say it Oh-gusta."
Helen is here for a British golfer.
"Luke Donald," she said.
"She's got a crush on him," her husband added.
Another woman we spoke with has a favorite too. "I want to see...Ishikawa," she laughed.
Ishikawa is huge in Japan, and so is golf.
But the Masters is proof golf is huge everywhere. Out of the 99 golfers here, 46 are from the US, and 53 are international.
Of course, that includes Rory McIlroy.
"I think he'll go on to win majors, and maybe not this week, but he'll definitely do it sometime," Paul said.
But with how he's been playing, maybe "sometime" is Sunday. This is his third Masters. Maybe the third time's the charm.
Aside from players and patrons from all over, the Masters also has plenty of international media coverage. News 12 is sharing a platform with CNN International this week. They're broadcasting from right beside us back to London.