- Brian Murphy at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
But maybe Hunter Mahan's emotionless non-reaction to a surprise visit from his wife, Kandi, and baby daughter, Zoe, on the 18th green Sunday in the FedExCup playoff opener at Ridgewood (N.J.) Country Club showed how all-consumingly hard it is to win in golf, and how little energy is left to spend on Hallmark emotions. Or how stunned Mahan was from barely saving bogey as victory went from certain to wobbly. Or maybe how much Mahan has hated it in the past when another player's kid traipsed across the green when there was still a group left on the course?
Or, maybe just Mahan owes Kandi a big ole spa day with his winner's check after she made the effort to fly up from Texas with toddler Zo, to surprise him, and didn't get much in the way of big, wet, celebratory, slobbery kisses. Instead, Mahan sort of rushed his family off the green and raced ahead of his wife with a speed-walk to the scorer's trailer. Even the CBS camera had as hard a time catching up with Mahan as Kandi.
The Tim Clark story is a good one. Good player, past Players Champion, elbow injury and surgery threatens his career until one weekend in 2014 in the province of Quebec, he goes 64-65, 30 on his inward nine on the Sunday, with eight consecutive one-putts and wins the Royal Canadian Open by one stroke for his first PGA Tour win in four years. Nice tale, that.
Except, he's not the story.
The sad case of Jim Furyk is the story.
Never has a guy who is ranked fourth on the money list with a cool $4.1 million by July's end invoked so much sympathy. Furyk has made a lot of dough because he keeps playing deep into Sundays. But Furyk keeps playing deep into Sundays, and falling tragically short, time and time again.
He blew a three-shot lead on Sunday at the Canadian Open, and he blew it by stalling out with a string of pars en route to an ordinary 69 while Clark blew by him in the fast lane, briefly tooting his horn and thanking Furyk for letting him play through. This development is part of a pattern.
The 143rd Open Championship was packed with good vibes.
Rory McIlroy played the role of superstar, driving the golf ball in otherworldly fashion, launching himself into golf's pantheon with his third major before he turned 26. Rickie Fowler continued to mature right before our early rising (at least on the West Coast) eyes, securing a second consecutive runner-up to go with his U.S. Open silver medal and his top-five Masters finish, brimming with potential glory, also just 25.
And then there was Sergio.
Somehow, despite yet another major come and gone without the 34-year-old Spaniard seizing the moment, despite yet another chance to claim the major championship we've been waiting for since the 20th century, even Sergio Garcia came out of Royal Liverpool pleased with himself, and with rose petals tossed his way.
"I did almost everything I could," Sergio opined, adding: "Everybody wants to make second a negative. Not at all."
Say what? A Sergio stall at a major, and nobody talks negative?
We're in luck if men's British Open can match greatness of Melissa Mo Martin's stunning Open-clinching shot
OK, 143rd Open Championship. You've got your work cut out for you.
Starting Thursday at Royal Liverpool, or Hoylake if you prefer, the best men's players in the world will vie for the Claret Jug, one of the sweetest pieces of hardware in sports. I say that mostly because you can drink booze from it. In that respect, only the Stanley Cup rivals the Claret Jug. Like, for example, I didn't see Bastian Schweinsteiger or Manuel Neuer pouring German lager out of the World Cup trophy on Sunday down in Brazil. They can't.
Anyway, your Phil Mickelsons and your Adam Scotts and your red-hot Justin Roses – they have a lot to answer to. They have to try to match the Women's British Open, which produced one of the greatest clutch shots in the history of majors, men's game or women's game.
Step right up, Melissa (Mo) Martin, a 31-year-old Southern Californian, a national champion at UCLA and a journeyman LPGA member who had never won on the LPGA Tour, had never led after any rounds of her LPGA career, and certainly had never sniffed a major championship before.
Beware, Holland. El Pato is loose.
You'd think a 64-64 weekend at the Greenbrier by 44-year-old Argentine Angel Cabrera en route to nailing down his first PGA Tour win since the 2009 Masters has little to do with the mighty "Albiceleste," the Argentinian national soccer team facing the Netherlands in a World Cup semifinal on Wednesday. But you'd be wrong.
That's the power of Angel (El Pato) Cabrera. He exudes so much likability and so much talent – when he's up for it, mind you – that his monster weekend in West Virginia surely will ripple down to Brazil to the boys in blue-and-white.
Be honest. Who would you rather see ply his athletic craft? The dashing, darting, miraculous artist known as Lionel Messi, the four-time World Footballer of the Year? Or a slightly overweight smoker who walks around a golf course like a duck?
Yes. I'm with you. Give me El Pato any day.
The tales of Cabrera's exploits at Sam Snead's old hangout will inspire Messi. Cabrera is such a money player that in 218 PGA Tour starts, he bothers to give the world glimpses of his talent only when it matters most. For example:
Behold the career of one Justin Peter Rose, 33 years old and carving his place in the golf world quite nicely, thank you.
With his almost-blew-it-but-didn't playoff win over Shawn Stefani in the Quicken Loans National at crispy Congressional on Sunday, Rose showed us many things. Among them:
• How to win on the PGA Tour for the fifth consecutive year, a streak topped only by Phil Mickelson (10 years) and Dustin Johnson (seven years). It should be noted that Mickelson's streak, as we barrel into July, has yet to be extended in 2014.
• How to back up and prove a major championship, as Rose joins Adam Scott by winning the year after his first major, avoiding one of those lost-in-the-wilderness post-major things, a combination of hangover and existential doubt that has plagued many a first-time major winner.
It's hard to conceive of a neater story in golf this year than Michelle Wie, on a summer evening in the sand hills of North Carolina, holding a United States Women's Open trophy. What an enriching sight. A bright, personable, 24-year-old Hawaiian won her country's national championship; and what an unforgettable, sometimes hellish journey to get there, too.
Wie's story has it all. Triumphant arrival. Accolades, even awe. Then, turbulence. Skepticism. Failure. Missteps, rules violations. A career seemingly gone awry. Pressure and public opinion, crushingly negative.
And this is all before she graduated high school.
Then, the craziest thing happened in this keep-it-to-140-characters-or-I'm-bored world. Michelle Wie slowed her journey down. She breathed. She didn't collapse. She lived. Thrived, even.
She went to Stanford. Made new friends. She painted. Opened her mind. Ignored the haters. She kept playing golf, but without the urgency of an early career perhaps over-burdened by parents who meant well, but stumbled. She grew into a lovely young woman.
Oh, and she still had a golf swing to die for.
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The greatest player of his generation – and perhaps the greatest player of all time – sat out these last two major championships and watched Bubba Watson and now Martin Kaymer do what he used to do.
This must be killing Tiger Woods.
It's killing most of us golf fans, too, so scoot over on that couch, Tiger.
Martin Kaymer is a golfer's golfer. He's got a gorgeous, airtight golf swing. He's humble and gracious. He is piling up career milestones, adding a U.S. Open win by eight strokes at Pinehurst No. 2 to go along with his 2010 PGA Championship, his 2014 Players Championship and his holding of the world No. 1 ranking back in 2011. He probably doesn't have an enemy in the golf world. Bravo to the 29-year-old German. He's a classy player.
But it says something about Kaymer's ability to hold the public's imagination when both of his major championship wins were marked more by someone else's story.
For this week, it's "Phil-hurst."
Pinehurst No. 2's United States Open golf championship is about Phil, Phil, and more Phil. And when in doubt, talk more about Phil.
We've been waiting 11 months for this, ever since Phil Mickelson kissed the Claret Jug at Muirfield on that July Sunday, just after crafting the finest golf round of the 21st century, that final-round 66 that brought him his fifth major, endless respect and the third leg of the coveted and historic career Grand Slam.
The hand-operated amber scoreboards at the 2013 Open Championship were barely taken down before the golf world asked: Now … can Phil finally win the U.S. Open? Can Phil finally win his country's national championship? Can Phil join The List, that list of Masters-era career Grand Slam winners?
Not a bad list, by the way: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen.
That's varsity-only, sports fans.
This is getting good now.
We've journeyed from a desultory 2014 PGA Tour season into a second consecutive week of pyrotechnics.
If it wasn't Caroline Wozniacki, Rory McIlroy's recently dumped fiancée, changing her avatar to a witch stirring her brew, it was Rory himself playing as if hexed, going from a Thursday 63 at Jack Nicklaus' Memorial to a cursed Friday 78. And if it wasn't lefty Bubba Watson seizing a 54-hole lead at prestigious Muirfield Village, only to see it slip away on a messy Sunday, it was lefty Phil Mickelson trying to clean up his own mess when it was revealed he was questioned about possible insider trading by the FBI.
So much for that mental preparation for Pinehurst's U.S. Open next week. Philly Mick's got the feds on his tail. That'll clutter a swing thought.