Monday, June 16, 2008

Greatest Open Ever.

I feel bad for golf announcers. Not on Thursday and Friday when there are dozens of story lines and pictures to paint and golfers to follow and smarminess to exude. No, I feel for them on Sunday, when there are really only three guys they are seriously following, and it takes a hole-in-one or a Phil Mickelson nine on the thirteenth to give them something to discuss. And even worse is today. Monday, the 18-hole playoff in the U.S. Open, and only two guys. Two guys to talk about, two guys to analyze, two guys to extoll and deify and exalt, and only two stories to tug at the collective heartstrings of the viewing public. I noticed that the poor ESPN announcers in the morning were really thin on material when they played an interview with Rocco Mediate, clearly saw that there was no sound at the beginning, and let the interview continue for another three minutes. With no sound. Whew, at least we don't have to talk any more!

I was afraid, too. These announcers, by the end of the day Sunday, were comparing Tiger Woods' performance in the U.S. Open with a sore knee to Kirk Gibson hitting his Game One pinch-hit homer in the 1988 World Series. As the day wore on, the comparisons grew more and more complimentary and beatific. Bobby Baun in Game 7 on a broken leg! I was afraid that by the end of the day today, they would be comparing him to the toughest sports stars, like Brett Favre and Scott Stevens, and eventually prison camp survivors like John McCain, war heroes like Audie Murphy, and torture victims like Jesus Christ. Through it all, I was going to become progressively mroe irritated, until I screamed at the TV - come ON! It's golf! It may be a little tougher with a sore knee, but give me a break. Furthermore, it's an individual sport. There is no team depending on you for the win. If you don't think you can do it, then you just go home. No harm no foul. It's golf.

And that is what we would have had to listen to, all day, had Tiger Woods taken off on Mediate and run up an eight-stroke lead. But thank God (and torture-victim Jesus) he didn't. Instead, we got to see what has to be the greatest 18-hole playoff of all time, following one of the greatest Opens of all time. Going into the 18th hole, Tiger is down. He is actually being beaten, in a playoff in a major, through seventeen holes! The bionic golfer, the robot, the unflappable monster, could actually lose. Then again, did any of us think he would? That he would get at least a birdie on 18 was a given. And then - after an opening day pairing of Woods and Mickelson, Mickelson exploding on Saturday, Woods' unbelievable comeback on Saturday evening, Mediate coming out of nowhere to provide the best sound bites in golf (when NBC has the sound on) and one of the most compelling contenders in recent memory, altogether one of the best majors in history, followed by the greatest playoff I have ever seen, we get more golf! More bonus holes, more time in front of the TV, more bitten nails and bums on the edges of seats. (I know, I know, it's golf. But every now and then, like today, it is actually edge-of-your-seat excitement. Stop laughing.)

In the end, we got 91 holes of golf. 91 holes of Tiger Woods overcoming incredible physical pain and personal odds to climb to the summit of golfing immortality. Rocco Mediate, who would have been the oldest player ever to win the U.S. Open, overcoming a terrible amount of adversity (which apparently involved him not winning very much for quite a while) to achieve a memorable charge toward the pinnacle of...OK. I don't think I feel sorry for golf announcers any more. I think I hate them. I've been watching them all weekend and now I'm typing weird.

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree with some of the comments made on the show,,& the stroking of ego's & sucking up to the players,,only to continue to be granted interviews.
    I Like Johnny Miller & he is to this day,still agood golfer,,but I think I have another week-end or two left before i've had enough of him,,,,self rightious ass hole,oops sorry,,,Arse hole,,thats better,,,,,,Out.