If you can't be an athlete...
Jun 5, 2012 / 5:00 am
Then be an athletic supporter. It’s a classic sentiment, a quote worthy of John Travolta in a letterman cardigan and one unfortunately not taken to heart by the legions of Tom, Dick and Danny Zucos who frolic the PGA fairways following their favorite player du jour. Heavens to Murgatroid people – when are you going to learn? When you buy a ticket to a live golf event, understand that you no longer need to carry your phone during said tournament. On Sunday, in the heat of glorious golfing battle do you really need a Facebook update from your hair stylist? Or do you need your Canuck App updating you of another Mike Gillis trade for Marco Sturm and if the family Labrador has just been sprayed by a skunk… well you can check your silent phone the next time nature calls. If you are unable to survive your instant information seclusion then may I suggest you just do what most of these jock-strapping fans are doing… head back to the message boards and launch an endless stream of Budweiser-laden complaints about how golfers are such wimps when it comes to noise in their backswings. Yup, nothing like camera-phones clicking and a whole bunch of outdated, misplaced You Da Man’s to really help pick up that pace of play out there. Time to give your collective head a shake. If it comes down to airline travel Homeland Security check-ins, complete with body cavity strip searches at the FedEx St. Jude Classic to locate your iPhone5, then I will quite happily help Joe LaCava and the retired volunteer marshals walker-whip you Texas Ranger-style as you are escorted to the Exit stage left.
Phew, I needed that! Oh, but wait, one more thing before we get to Tiger and his incredible win. On Thursday, Phil the Thrill blasted a rather uninterested, tired 79 around The Course That Jack Built and promptly withdrew citing exhaustion from return travel from a family vacation. Needless to say, the Legion of Basement Dwelling Keyboard Super-Heroes took to the ether and before Mickelson had made it out of the parking lot – albeit after a press conference and signing session – he had been dubbed a ‘classless elitist’ and sprayed with the paraphrase of ‘all that is wrong with the game of golf today.’ I’m sure if I searched hard enough I would have found him being blamed for global warming and for putting the fire hydrant in Tiger’s way but I had a lunch to keep down at the time.
“Why does Phil get a free pass?” screamed the message boards. Well, if I may interrupt your Dungeons and Dragons game for a second and focus your attention. FIGJAM gets the pass because of the time and energy he devotes every week, day in and day out to the Fans, the press corps and to the sponsors. He gets the pass because he has always said steadfastly that family is first and foremost, no exceptions. He gets the pass because he’s in his 40’s, he’s arthritic and he wants to be ready for the US Open at Olympic Club. He gets the pass because he didn’t invent an injury but went with the dreaded truth on this one. He gets the pass because he’s earned it and as much as he doesn’t need an apologist on this one, I’ll take the stand in his defense. No, He Who Once Was Eldrick would not have gotten the same pass but then again, The Striped One had a story of his own to tell this week.
There is something about a Sunday at The Memorial. I know it’s not a Major but when CBS comes on the air with the Nicklaus highlight package running, Jim Nantz’s voice holds the same air of reverence that each and every player has when they step to the 1st tee at Jack’s Course. Like Arnie’s Bay Hill, the significance of this victory on the career resume is not lost on those lucky enough to be in contention on Day 4. And like Bay Hill this year, a search of the leader-board after Round 3 did not require Dora the Explorer to notice a certain rather hungry, potentially dangerous member of the Large Cat family lurking and ready to pounce should his somewhat Major-less competitors decide to fold up like Ikea patio furniture in an Ohio early-summer squall. With the course playing hard and fast and pins tucked in the extreme edges of greens, this for all the world looked like a great warm-up for Olympic Club and a superb preview for Muirfield Village’s course set-up for next year’s President’s Cup. All this is just pre-amble to saying – Tiger Time.
There was a time, in a golf era known as Pre-Hydrant when players who had a 2-shot lead with 4 holes to play over Mr. Woods would nervously start preparing their Runner-Up acceptance speeches with correct inflection and well-placed tears. If, during this era, we as Golf Fans accepted that tournaments truly didn’t begin until the Back 9 on Sunday, we must also all have accepted that they didn’t end until Tiger said they did. Overnight leader Spencer Levin’s swing, despite David Feherty’s brilliant contention that he was “trying his earlobes off,” is one built for a 63-Hole tournament and after a birdie on the 1st, Rickie Fowler had decided he wanted nothing further to do with the greens, ballooning to an un-coverable, playing-alongside-Tiger 84. This left noted Woods quote machine and Tour fashion guru Rory Sabbatini to deal with the roars which accompany an old-school Tiger charge and most likely had Jack Hannah’s neighbouring Columbus Zoo inmates wondering if there had been a Madagascar-style breakout.
The chip-in on #16 and accompanying fist-pump was eerily reminiscent of the Augusta Swoosh Incident and effectively tore the roof off the sky and left Nicklaus wondering aloud if he had in fact just seen the best shot ever, considering time and circumstance. When Tiger birdied #18 it became an exclamation point, a 73rd PGA victory to tie him for 2nd all time with the Golden Bear, a man whose records he covets and whose reputation within the game of golf he craves. At 36, it will still take a Major for the doubters and haters to believe that Tiger has come all the way back but Las Vegas dropped his odds to 6-1F for the US Open… and that ‘F’ stands for Favorite by the way. Until next time Kelowna, keep it in the short grass…
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