Lund At Large
My heart is broken and I’m disappointed to the point of gloom…all over a game of golf.
But not just any game of golf..this was the British Open, considered by most to be the most prestigious golf tournament in the world.
Many figured this year’s event in Scotland would be a bust since the world’s greatest player, Tiger Woods, had a tough time finding the fairways of Turnberry and wound up missing the cut for the first time since..who the heck knows? Forever.
The second best player in the world, Phil Mickelson wasn’t there either opting instead to rightfully remain stateside with his wife who is being treated for cancer.
So what could possibly make the tournament interesting?
How about 59 year old 5 time British Open winner, Tom Watson playing like he was 29 again..leading the darn thing by one stroke going into the final hole?!
32 years ago at that same golf course, Watson brought huge ovations from the normally restrained British fans when he outdueled the great Jack Nicklaus to win. 1977 British Open also at Turnberry in which Watson (left) claimed victory.
Now, all he had to do is par the 18th to make history as the oldest player by far ever to win a major.
You see, I, and every other geezer golfer out there had a personal stake in this.
We needed someone to step forward and champion our cause by giving all these flat bellied, emotionless, long hitting kids a lesson in how the game used to be played..when woods were actually made of wood and golf balls would tear apart if not hit properly.
A year ago, we seniors almost had our hero when 53 year old Greg Norman came out of retirement and wound up leading the British Open only to crumble like a soda cracker with 8 bogies on Sunday losing out to a much younger Padraig Harrington.
This weekend, Tom Watson had everyone believing that he’d managed to turn time on its ear. Thanks to recent a recent hip replacement, there was a spring in his step, a game plan in his pocket and confidence in his eyes.
The announcers, most of them retired golfers much younger than Watson, were giddy at the possibility that he could actually win.
On 18, at three under par and with all the pressure one can imagine, Watson gave his club the familiar three waggles and launched yet another perfect drive.
The players he’d been battling all day had fallen by the wayside…everyone except for Stewart Cink.
Cink, who’d been playing several holes ahead of Watson, managed a rare birdie on 18 to finish at two under par making him the leader in the clubhouse.
Not to worry, though, Watson, still calm and determined, hit his second shot dead at the flag..but a little strong and the ball rolled off the back edge of the green against the taller rough.
The crowd, realizing they were witnessing perhaps the greatest moment in the game’s long history, roared as Watson strolled up 18.
Anyone who has followed Tom Watson’s career knows him to be a terrific chipper and a lousy putter..at least short putts.
So it was puzzling to see him try to putt the ball out of the rough and run it eight feet past the hole.
If he makes it, the world of golf as we know it, changes..at least in the hearts and minds of those of us sixty somethings who need to believe we still have some good..maybe great.. games left in us.
If he misses, it’s a four hole playoff against a well rested thirty something giant of a man dressed in a goofy green outfit and hungry for his first major win.
Apparently the enormity of his situation could no longer be controlled as Watson’s putt made sort of a sickening clunk off the blade and rolled pitifully off-line and short. Amid the groans of the partisan gallery, he tapped in and headed back onto the course for the playoff.
But it was too late. Tom Watson was totally deflated. He’d blown his chance at immortality and knew it.
The four playoff holes are just too sad to talk about except to say that Cink clobbered Watson by six strokes!
Then, as the new champion relished his victory, and the gracious loser smiled through his tears, the disappointed fans drifted away in stunned silence as if the poor guy, Cink, had just peed on Princess Diana’s headstone.
As for the rest of us?
Well, we’ll drift away too..dejected..at having been reminded of the very dissatisfying reality that time travel is only a dream and dreams don’t always come true..in golf or life.
Everything But The Stewart Cink
By: Doug Lund
Lund At Large