Hope I didn’t inadvertently raise your expectations with the title. I would never profess my contributions to be as inspired as Jack Handey’s “Deep Thoughts.”
A number of random observations from the Golf World…
You Don’t Want This Headline
“Golfer X Wins the Hold-on-for-Dear-Life Classic with a Closing 75.”
Is Bay Hill catching the same disease that afflicted Augusta National through the middle of the last decade? Did Arnold Palmer develop an allergy to exciting finishes? Isn’t there a ridiculous irony when a tournament’s namesake is synonymous with “final day charge,” but then features the “limp-to-the-finish line” conclusion we witnessed Sunday?
I don’t know about you, but I find little thrill in watching professionals grind out pars while trying to navigate baked-out greens surrounded by “fried-egg” bunkers. My only savior was the influence of Yahoo Fantasy Golf, as the Spring Segment concluded Sunday.
The Masters tried the “defend par at all costs” approach several years ago, turning an exciting course risk/reward course into an over-lengthened battle of attrition. How many of you can recall the swash-buckling Back 9 finishes of Trevor Immelman and Zach Johnson? Me, neither.
Luckily, Augusta learned its lesson in the last two years, modifying the Sunday set-ups to resurrect the Back 9 Roars we all grew up loving. Hopefully, Arnold will avoid a repeat of Sunday’s debacle when the Tour returns to Orlando in 2012.
Try This Headline on for size..
“Gal Outduels Shin to Capture First Win”
The LPGA may not compete with the PGA for TV Ratings, Purse Size, or Corporate Popularity, but for “on-course excitement,” the Ladies decimated their male counterparts this weekend.
If you didn’t take the time to watch it, you missed out on a great duel featuring one golfer established as world-elite vs. the young player struggling to break through. It’s hard to believe the 22-year old Jiyai Shin would be viewed as the “battle-hardened” vet in this scenario. But with a resume featuring 8 LPGA victories (1 Major) and 21 Korean LPGA titles, the 5’2″ Shin fits the role of Goliath in this tale.
Assuming the David role was Germany’s Sandra Gal, a 25 year-old trying to prove that she belongs. Prior to this week, Gal’s four year career included only 3 Top 10 appearances, a mere 29 behind the 32 Shin accumulated in the same period.
At any point, you expected Gal to accept her inevitable fate as runner-up, especially when Shin started dialing in on the inward half. Shin put on a ball-striking clinic, and quickly erased Gal’s 2 stroke-advantage with 3 back-nine birdies. Gal may have been counted out on the 14th, after she flew the green to leave an impossible downhill chip, while Shin was lining up a 6 foot birdie putt. But the German pulled out a remarkable scrambling par, capped off by a 15 foot putt.
You thought it may have only been a temporary reprieve, after Shin birdied 15, and knocked her approach to 10 feet on 16. But Gal responded with a birdie of her own, to set up the climactic 18th.
I still felt the conclusion was inevitable, as Shin was entering an near-robotic level of execution with her irons. One more approach left her 5 feet away from disposing of the underdog. Gal had every excuse to accept a 2nd place finish at that point, battling the nerves that come with challenging a former World #1…
….who was lying 5 feet for birdie…
….now facing a delicate 83 yard feel shot…
….in front of a packed 18th grandstand.
And then in one of those moments that make us love athletics, Gal overcame everything to nearly hole her approach, leaving a 2 footer for her break-through Glory.
If you haven’t been checking out the LPGA Tour, do yourself a favor and see what you’re missing. I don’t think anyone would argue that the Ladies’ 18th was a tad more enjoyable than the exhilaration of Martin Laird’s 75 foot two-putt for par.
Tiger Pushing Limits of Horses for Courses Theory
In all my Fantasy Golf endeavors, I subscribe fully to the “Horses for Courses” school of thought. I pull up all tournament histories and see who has visited the Top 10 most often, knowing that certain courses favor certain players’ styles.
But Tiger is breaking all the rules this year and testing my patience. Tiger’s mediocre (to be generous) performance so far in 2011 has been compounded by the venues he has visited.
Tiger’s schedule has been populated with his favorites – Torrey Pines, Doral, Bay Hill. These three venues have contributed 18 Tour Victories (6 each), plus a US Open for good measure in 2008. To date, Tiger has mustered a 44th, 24th and a meaningless “back-door” 10th place showing, thanks to a “garbage time” 66 at Doral.
Is there any reason to believe Tiger will regain form at the Masters next week? A Fantasy Pool I’ve played in used to have a “No Tiger Rule” since he was a Unanimous Choice every time. Now, I’m debating whether he even makes my 10 man roster.