An award-worthy week in golf

Brian Murphy
Yahoo! Sports

In honor of those self-congratulatory Emmys in Hollywood, how about we hand out a few statuettes of our own after a crazed week on the world's links.

Like, for example, "Most Relieved Guy Ever To Sign Divorce Papers": Come and collect, Tiger Woods, and we promise there's no subpoena in the envelope. You're free and clear now, and those bookend rounds of 65 on Thursday and 67 on Sunday indicate that, while it'll never be the same as it was in the salad days of the previous decade, something got liberated in your mechanism. With the miracles of electronic direct deposit these days, you can be spared the agony of handwriting monthly personal checks to the ex-wife, and concentrate on making a few putts. I'll make the early call and say Tiger wins a major in 2011. It proved too tough in 2010 to try and win majors while texting lawyers in between holes.

Look, here's another award, "Best Performance By a Guy With Perma-Grin." Congratulations, Matt Kuchar. It appears the unchanging nature of your ear-to-ear doozy means you win this award every year, even if you play like a dog. A dozen years after you captured America with your toothy college-kid smile at the 1998 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, you've found a real reason to smile – a 7-iron from the rough to two feet on a canted 18th green at Ridgewood C.C. to crush Martin Laird's Scottish heart on a playoff hole, a win in the first tourney of the Fed ExCup playoffs, a 10th top-10 of the year (tops on Tour) and first place in the Fed ExCup points race.

Actually, Kooch's smile may be the perfect response to taking the lead in the Fed ExCup points race. The Kooch grin can serve as a default, something he does almost by way of saying: "What are you talking about? I don't get a word you're saying, but I'll keep smiling 'til you stop talking about whatever it is I don't understand."

That's pretty much how any talk of the Fed ExCup playoffs should be greeted:

Huh? What? Who figures out these points? What do they mean? Can I just go play golf and not worry about being back in high school algebra class? If I keep grinning, will you just go away?

Here's another little gold trophy, for "Best Recurring Character in a Drama or Tragedy." The landslide winner is everybody's favorite heartbreaker, Dustin Johnson. Seeing Johnson in the final twosome at the Barclays on Sunday, I was feeling mighty proud of my prediction in a column two weeks ago that Johnson's Nuke LaLoosh-like qualities – heavy on the talent, light on the self-reflection – would mean he'd bounce back quickly from the Great Whistling Straits Bunker Adventure. I also had a gnawing feeling, as in: How will young Dustin be befouled by this dastardly game again?

Turns out Sunday was light on the tragedy for Johnson. He couldn't make a putt, never even tied for the lead, shot 72, tied for ninth, made $202,500 and walked away with his dignity fairly intact, winning over even more fans with his resilience, his cool reticence and the best sideburns/soul patch combo since the Beatnik era.

But wait, there's more: "Best Performance in Stirring Up Jingoistic Tabloids" goes to none other than Colin Montgomerie, the European Ryder Cup captain who snubbed England's own Paul Casey – the ninth-ranked player in the world – and England's own Justin Rose – whose very last name invokes the make-England-weep lyrics of Elton John's tribute to the late Princess Diana. Monty instead went with a paisan, Italy's Edoardo Molinari, who birdied his final three holes to win the Johnnie Walker European Tour event Sunday. Never mind that Italy's golf tradition runs about as deep as England's beach volleyball tradition – Monty went with the hot hand, and will wear a target if Molinari takes "il choke-o" the first weekend of October in Wales.

Actually, Monty's probably just happy somebody wants to talk about something other than his injunction to prevent allegedly incriminating photographs from reaching the public eye. Heck, he'll talk Molinari controversy until the cows come home, as long as nobody brings up any talk of photos.

The details of Casey's exclusion surely pained anybody who remembers being snubbed by the cool kids in high school. Casey was playing with Padraig Harrington, and on the seventh hole noticed Harrington's wife gleefully share news with Padraig and his caddie. Surely, Casey presumed, Harrington had gotten word he was a captain's pick.

And then … radio silence.

Harrington's wife said nary a word to Casey. Harrington himself went mute on the topic. It was like the big invite to a Friday night keg party went out, with the caveat: "DON'T TELL CASEY. HE'S A NERD."

Casey said it was excruciating, having to finish his round, knowing he was iced from the European squad while his playing partner was going to the Big Dance. In fact, let's hand out one last Golf Emmy for Casey: "Most Agonizing Day for a World Top-Ten Player, All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go."


65-69-72-70 – 12-under 276, Michelle Wie, winner, LPGA Canadian Open.

Oh, wait. Another statuette: "Best Win By Somebody We Thought Could Never Win a Golf Tournament, Only Now We Can Rip Her For Never Winning in the United States of America."

Congrats, Big Wiesy!

That's win No. 2 for the 20-year-old who seems like she's 80, she has been in the news so long. It was a nice one, too. It started with an ace Thursday en route to a tidy 65, it was a wire-to-wire win, it involved Wie making three consecutive birdies on her Sunday back nine, and it was a three-shot cushion in the end. All this, even while playing in the final twosome with Jiyai Shin, who is actually far more accomplished than Wie and could have easily intimidated her by saying on the first tee Sunday: "You know, I'm actually much more accomplished than you."

Now, since it's Michelle Wie, we need to start ripping her. Isn't that the case with the Wie haters?

Longtime readers of this column know I've always been a Wie fan, have been dying for her to rip off an Annika-style seven-win, two-major season and have been slowly, year by year, disappointed by the fact that Wie seems, instead, to have turned out to be a delightful young lady, interested in her Stanford education, well-balanced in her life and seemingly comfortable in her skin, happy with her lot in the world, and serene in her heart and soul.

To which I say: Well … la-di-da!

I'm actually quite happy to see Wie now have multiple wins, along with a sterling Solheim Cup performance last year. She isn't blazing the golf world and bringing it to its knees, Tiger-style, as many of us thought she would when she was 13. She's instead learning to win, year by year, and may not hit her stride until she's 25.

Oh, and the mandatory rip job? Her two wins have now come in the 2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational – in Mexico; and now the Canadian Open – which, cleverly, took place in Canada.

What's the matter, Wiesy? Can't handle the bright lights, big city of the continental 48? Huh? What gives?


It's tempting to go back to the first tee Saturday at Ridgewood CC, let Tiger Woods re-tee his O.B. drive, avoid triple bogey, and put him in the hunt Sunday. But Tiger doesn't need our mullys – not now, not ever. He has fashioned a decent career without any Mullys of the Week. So, Tiger, you'll have to wear that one.

Instead, we turn to a much more human moment in the column, a time when we can all, as citizens of the planet, gather to empathize, to think, "There but for the grace of God go I", to lament the tragedy that befell a fellow homo sapiens.

We turn our attention to Jim Furyk's cell phone alarm.

It is every hotel-dweller's nightmare: the wake-up call that never comes, leading to the stirring in the bed, the glancing at the clock, the sickening panic that you are WAY late for something important, followed by the slapstick rush out of bed, into clothes, forgetting socks (Furyk did), forgetting a belt (Furyk did), leaving a patch of rubber in the hotel parking lot and still … arriving late for your flight/meeting or, in Furyk's case, your Wednesday pro-am.


Furyk missing his Wednesday pro-am time because of a faulty cell phone alarm meant he was DQ'ed from the Barclays at Ridgewood, the very sort of shotmaker's golf course a guy like Jim Furyk would tear up. It was a brutal blow for his wallet, his golf mojo and for his family life – he said he missed his little girl's first day at school back home in Pennsylvania, as well.

For any of us who has placed a phone call to a front desk clerk to place a wake-up call, only to be certain in our guts that said front desk clerk is on Facebook and not even listening to our request, leading to a night of tossing and turning and checking the clock, sure that your wake-up call will never come … we feel your pain, Jim Furyk.

So, we give this week's Mulligan of the Week to Furyk, who should be allowed to go back to Tuesday night, set his cell phone alarm again, set up a wake-up call at the front desk, have his wife pledge to call at an appointed hour, and drop in a 976-WAKE call, for good measure and … give that man a Wake-Up mulligan!


"About these Fed ExCup playoffs, and the points system, is it just me, or is this thing taking form, is there some traction being gained with the understanding of it, and the excitement of it, too?" – Jim Nantz, CBS.

It's just you, Jim.


Aw, I feel bad for knocking Nantz like that. He's a stalwart, and a Friend of the Column, and all that. It's just that, it needs to be said: The FedEx Cup playoffs are good and bad.

Good, because they've given us excellent fields in a post-PGA Championship calendar, something that never existed before. For that, the PGA Tour's move to a "playoff" has succeeded – we get to see the big boys play in September, and that matters.

Equally, however, the FedEx Cup points and playoffs are bad because they are impossible to follow, seem random in their weight, change by the second, give me a headache and, worst of all, are meaningless – outside of the $10 million annuity for the winner, who must be laughing while saying: "I just won a $10 million annuity for something nobody understands!"

Do we need to spell it out, again? Every year, golf's "playoffs" are the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. Everything else is just gravy. And the Tour is to be commended for giving us some decent gravy in the post-PGA Championship TV landscape. They are not, however, to be commended for the points system and "playoff race" best understood by Stephen Hawking and a PowerPoint presentation.


That said, on to Boston for the next "leg" of the "playoffs." And if I have to use any more "quote marks," you'll know how "bogus" the "playoffs" are. Like I said, though – we get Tiger and Dustin and Phil and a dynamite field, so in the end, that's "good."