This Weekend While I Was Battling the Plague
I was sick all weekend which made me fairly miserable but also granted me total control of the bedroom television all day. I was able to enjoy the full weekend coverage of the British Open and the Tour de France which both turned out to be American triumphs. In my last post I covered the emotional impact of Tiger Woods' victory at Royal Liverpool. Now on to the rest of the things I observed while trying to cough up my right lung. The British Open
- I heard some golf analyst interviewed on 850 the Buzz last week who said that Sergio Garcia is still somewhat immune to criticism for not having delivered the goods since standing toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship. My question is can we criticize him now? Not only does Garcia break multiple fashion taboos out there he simply folds like a cheap lawn chair when he gets anywhere close to a lead in a major. On Saturday, Garcia blistered the front nine at 29 and moved within one shot of Woods at -11. With three negotiable par 5s left on the back nine Garcia produces one birdie and finished the day at -12. Woods was -13 and led to Garcia and Woods being paired together. Bad news for Sergio who bogeyed four holes on the front and took himself out of contention. One announcers said Sergio probably wishes "Tiger was 42, 43 years old." I am not sure even that would matter.
- Let me just say I like Chris DiMarco. He almost matched Tiger shot for shot. I would have been interested to have seen how the round would have gone had they been paired together. It would have made for some epic golf I am sure. It was also a case of two grieving sons dueling each other for that "destiny" win for their father/mother. Tiger won that duel but no one would have minded if DiMarco had pulled it out.
- "CAMERA PHONES!!!" That was Woods' cry on at least two occassions where he stepped away from his ball after being peturbed by the beeping of camera phones. It happened so often that Woods and Garcia were warned on the 10th for slow play. This led to an interesting discussion among the ABC announcers of whether the PGA would enforce a one stroke penalty if the slow play continued(BTW, they were slow, a full hole behind DiMarco/Els but then again they were the last group.) Yeah, riiiiiggghhhht. The PGA is going to dock Tiger a stroke on something as trivial as slow play when he is holding up no one behind him. A better idea would be the PGA removing anyone from the course who is brandishing a camera phone while the player is addressing the ball. I am sure the specter of being kicked out of the tournament would be enough of a deterrent for those amatuer photogs.
- Someone on ESPN Radio this morning suggested that Woods' win was cheapened by the fact he chose to hit driver only once and instead hit three wood and 2 iron to keep the ball on the fairway and short of the pot bunkers. At times Woods was a full 100 yeards behind Els or Garcia on his drive but because he hits his irons so far and so well he can accomodate for the extra distance. It is no secret Tiger has not hit his driver accurately in a long time and his strategy at Hoylake was simple: Keep it in the fairway. In doing so Woods showed himself to be a brillant tactician as well as physically capable golf player. This theory is wrong for two reasons. First, it forces Tiger to hit a longer second shot which requires far more accuracy considering the speed of the greens and pin location on a links course. Woods essentially played to his strength which is not necessarily his drives but his approach shots. Not to mention, Woods' putting was dead on all weekend which illustrates putting the ball in birdie position does not matter if you are unable to put it in the hole(Just ask Sergio Garcia). The second point is the object of the game of golf which is to move the ball from the tee to hole in the fewest number of strokes over 72 holes. Nowhere in the rules of golf does it dictate certain clubs must be used to accomplish this task. Woods did what he needed to do to accomplish the goal which was shoot the lowest score. I could care less if he used a putter to do it and speaking of which I found it more disturbing guys were putting from the fairway onto the green than I did Woods not using driver. This guys was trying to trump up controversey to spark an on-air argument for ratings.
- Finally it has been 39 years since the Open was played at Hoylake. What are the odds it will be another 39 years or when Tiger is out of his prime before it ends up there again.
Tour de France
- Much to the chargrin of Frenchman another American won the Tour de France this weekend. Floyd Landis who was counted out after Stage 16 when he fell 8 minutes back(yeah he's done) came back in Stage 17 and close the gap back to 30 seconds, stayed put until the Stage 19 time trial which constitutes the last "real" stage on the Tour. Since Landis was far superior in the time trial than any of the overall leaders he concluded Saturday with a minute lead which would be enough to secure victory on Sunday. Why?
- Because for some reason the last stage in Paris is a stage that is not really a stage. In other words your opponents are either unable to catch up to you because the stage occurs on the streets of Paris or out of some sense of sportmanship they refuse to try. Lance Armstrong said that it was cermonial for the most part except if you fell and broke a collarbone you could lose the Tour. This probably explains why Landis had teammates surrounding his bike for most of the stage. If you ask me it seems a little anti-climatic. If the stage counts when make the winner earn it. If the streets of Paris cannot accomodate real racing then leave Paris for the very end and have some real racing to determine the winner. This would be like a team winning their third game in the World Series and then handing them the next game in a slow pitch softball exhibition.
- And the OLN announcers were good for the most part except for one depressing segment where they lamented Carlos Sastre who was close to the lead and then was blown away in the time trial. They kept using phrases like "he has lost everything" and "you have to feel for Sastre having rode so well only to lose now." First of all, stop the presses, we have never seen a case in the history of sports where someone leads a race or game all the way through and then fails at the end. The NCAA Tournament was made on stuff like that. Secondly, they make it sound so life altering as though Sastre is contemplating suicide for having failed so utterly in his pursuit of cycling's greatest prize. I have expected him to take a ride straight off a mountain since apparently life was no longer worth living.