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Golf's historic tale of two trophies

By Associated Press in Hoylake, England (China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-17 07:19

Both the green jacket and claret jug have some interesting stories to tell

The green jacket gave Canadian Mike Weir a thrill he won't forget.

The Masters champion wore his coveted prize onto the ice for a Stanley Cup playoff game in Toronto, with the Maple Leafs tapping their hockey sticks on the ice and the massive crowd producing a cheer louder than any he heard at Augusta National.

Canada loves its golf, and the green jacket is even more meaningful to a country that forgets spring even exists until seeing the azaleas and dogwoods on TV each April.

The claret jug gave Padraig Harrington a moment that made him laugh.

The British Open champion had his coveted prize with him on a trip to San Francisco when he got into a cab with a driver who loved the sport so much he was wearing a golf glove.

The jug was in its steel case, which was leaking whiskey that had not been drained. The driver asked what was in the case, and Harrington jokingly told him it was a human organ. Only after the Irishman got out of the cab did he have his two friends tell the cabbie it was the claret jug.

The newest and the oldest of golf's major championships offer two very distinct prizes, both recognizable to any golf fan anywhere in the world.

Which evokes greater emotion?

"I'd love to find out," said Graeme McDowell, who to date can speak only for the US Open trophy.

The claret jug is all about history.

Tom Kidd was the first British Open champion to be presented a claret jug in 1873. The original was swapped out by a replica starting in 1928, and that is the 86-year-old trophy Phil Mickelson had to return when he arrived at Hoylake on Monday.

"It was fun to see the faces of the people that have such respect and reverence for the game of golf and this championship, and what it means to be able to take a picture with it or drink a sip out of it," Mickelson said.

The green jacket is more about dignity.

Sam Snead was the first Masters champion to be presented a green jacket in 1949. Every winner gets his own green jacket - Jack Nicklaus, of all people, had to wait the longest to get fitted for one - and the winner gets to keep it for a year before it goes in his locker at the club.

"I only went one place in it and that was to New York for interviews," Bubba Watson said a week before he won the Masters a second time.

"People were so in awe of it. They all wanted to take a picture. Anyone who knows anything about sports knows about the green jacket. It's pretty amazing the reception you get."

The two prizes could not be any more different. Winners of each wouldn't trade one for the other - unless they can have both.

"Let's look at it for what it is," British Open champion Stewart Cink said. "One is a garment. One is a device for drinking stuff. If you're looking at it for what it is, and not what it means, you can have way more fun with a claret jug than a green jacket."

Zach Johnson would not trade the time he went to a charity function at home wearing his green jacket.

"If there's a 40 regular in the house, they want to put it on," he said. "They want to touch it. They want to feel it. They want to put it on."

Which one would he rather have for a year?

"Go ask Tiger," Johnson said.

Tiger Woods, the only active player to win all four majors, was not much help. He fell asleep in his green jacket the night after he won the 1997 Masters but he was rarely (if ever) seen publicly in the jacket or carrying the jug.

Mickelson has won five majors, three of them at the Masters.

One of the most famous post-victory photos of Mickelson was him wearing the green jacket in the drive-thru lane at Krispy Kreme donuts in Augusta.

"Well, the Krispy Kreme was pre-arthritis, OK? So let's keep that in mind," Mickelson said.

He felt the claret jug brought out more emotion because everyone could share in it - holding it, posing with it, drinking from it.

"There's really not much you're going to do with the jacket, other than pull on the lapels," he said.

There's something about the green jacket that seems to make the champions nervous.

Watson got home from New York and the jacket stayed in his closet the rest of the year. Angel Cabrera said it never left his house in Argentina. Trevor Immelman took it to Japan for an exhibition with 16-year-old Ryo Ishikawa.

"If it happens again, I'll do a little more with it," Immelman said.

(China Daily 07/17/2014 page23)

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