Sunday, April 11, 2010
Nice Guys Finish First
How’s that for class?
Phil Mickelson, with the hammer-close, to be greeted by his recovering cancer stricken wife and impossibly perfect children fringeside for green jacket #3.
I’ve taken my shots at Phil over the years. Phoney. Choker. Nippleson.
I’m gonna have to retire all that now, because no matter what he might do in the future to make me roll my eyes and say: “That’s it, I’m off the Phil wagon!” I’m going to have to come back to this week and remind myself what a beast he is.
On the course, and off.
Let’s be honest. We’re all jealous of Phil. We want his game, his smile, his money, his private jet, his family.
Jealousy is an ugly thing. Let’s appreciate him instead.
He’s the real deal, in every way.
He flat out dominated #’s 12, 13, 15 and 18. And to think he missed two makeable eagles in that stretch to boot.
For years, people ripped Phil for taking idiotic chances. Justifiably so. But on 13, his 6-iron from the straw was the stuff of pure champions. It was the kind of shot, full of risk and balls out with everything on the table, that will now become legend.
But had Phil lost it all on that play, or on the following holes, you know he would have lost with class. Its something that Tiger, er, Cheetah’s rehab stint has apparently failed to teach.
I just love how the entire CBS announce crew – minus Faldo, who appears to be the only rational thinker on the roster – tried to drag Cheetah’s disheveled game across the finish line on Sunday.
The hushed tones and excuses came early, as Woods bogeyed 3 of his first 6 holes.
“He’s not used to the new wedge grooves!”
“He’s exhausted from all the attention this week!”
“He’s rusty from not playing a warm up tournament!”
Funny, because these were nowhere to be found after Friday. Then, the meme was “He’s Just As Awesome As Ever!”
Then, miracle of miracles, he holes out for eagle on #7 and “zzzzziiiiiippppp!” there goes Peter Kostis’ pants!
When he birdied a stretch making the turn, you could hear the syrup in Nantz’s voice start to warm up like it was ready for the pancakes.
Then the idiotic flubbed 2-footer on #14 essentially excused anybody who needed to leave the set for supper.
Even after Cheetah’s eagle on #15, David Feherty couldn’t quite muster once again the nerve to imply that he was now again, “back in it.”
From the first nuclear snap-pull on #1 Sunday, through every pop up, chunker, yip and tree-clang, it was pretty clear that Woods was nowhere near in form to win the tournament. Forget how many shots he was behind at any moment, it was the multitude of world class players between him and the top of the leaderboard that mattered.
They weren’t all going to choke.
(SIDE NOTE: I don’t know what the “rules” are regarding how to list golfers who are TIED for a score on a television leaderboard, but when was the last time Tiger ever was tied with several golfers, but was NOT floated to the top of that list? Ever? I didn’t see that happen ONCE on CBS all weekend.)
But CBS made sure to play up the Tiger Is The Terminator angle because they know it keeps the extra 40% of non-golf-playing viewers stuck to the set.
Which made it alternately amusing or annoying for those of us who actually have hit a large bucket of stripers in our life and know when a guy is not going to win.
The shame was how it sucked the life out of every other story line, and denied a more proper focus on the final group of Mickelson and Westwood.
Had Cheetah somehow done what only Kostis and Co. go to sleep dreaming about and charged to victory on the back nine, it would have been the most disgraceful major winning performance ever.
Woods was a surly, whiny lot the entire way around.
To think he could finish as high as he did – with a duct taped swing, and body language that reminded parents of their 6 year old after getting denied at the supermarket checkout – only underscores how mentally unprepared he was to play this week.
Any decent golf coach would have scolded their player for acting like Woods did, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the profanities – although those were egregious as well.
When you “pop up” a drive like on #2, but it still goes 300 yards, don’t piss and moan like another mistress just came out and gave an exclusive to the Enquirer.
Stomp ahead, and bear down. Negative thoughts, breed negative emotions, which turn into negative body language and ultimately chumped sand shots.
Who the hell would want to cheer for a guy like that?
Where was the fierce dignity, the quiet determination, the lazer like focus, and the humble acceptance that this tournament might not be one in which he played his best?
Where, oh where, was Buddha?
And where was the television analyst with the balls to say what was obvious. His physical game is a long way from being right, but his mental game is even worse!
Could you imagine how Woods would have reacted to that “rogue stamen” that flew in from Decatur on a wind zephyr to land impossibly in Phil’s line on #2? My god, he would have exploded. Phil just shrugged and moved on.
Tiger’s post-round chat with Kostis pretty much sealed the deal. “People are making way too much of this” Cheetah explained when asked if he let his emotions sink his round.
Wrong answer. The question was did your tantrums hurt your performance, not “do you agree with what they are saying about you in the press?”
How much could Woods have re-habbed his image if he had just screwed on a pair of pursed lips and said afterward: “My swing is a wreck, but it was just great to be back out there in contention. I’m lucky to do this for a living, and I can’t wait for my next event. I’ll get it fixed, but all things considered, it was a helluva week.”
He’s the same guy.
Only Tiger’s image was totaled in that car crash. The guy who plays golf in the swoosh hat was largely unscathed.
He’s a total dick. Now we can drop any pretense.
If you like that kind of thing, then you can root for him all the way to Jack’s record. The rest of us will enjoy players with less talent, but far more class, step up to wax his ass like they did on Sunday.