Quick, somebody phone Doug Sanders.
We need to confirm, for historical purposes, that Camilo Villegas' win on Sunday at Bellerive was the first victory in tour history for a man wearing hospital orderly white set off by a French's Mustard yellow belt. I'd say it's a slam-dunk, but you never know when you factor in a guy like Sanders. From the late 1950s through the 1970s, that guy wore colors like Evel Knievel jumped things, garishly and without fear. (It's no accident I chose Knievel as my analogy; quick research shows Sanders and Knievel used to hang back in the day.)
At any rate, until Sanders disputes it, we'll say Villegas' win is the first in history to feature this particular striking combination of brightness. Surely, he has to be the first to win in a matching French's Mustard yellow painter's/Army-style cap. I'm fairly confident Sanders never rocked the French's Mustard yellow painter's/Army-style cap.
And if we're going to continue to beat this drum, we'll note that surely Villegas is the first to win an event post-Labor Day wearing white pants. When Villegas donned the snowy slacks, he was thumbing his nose at decades worth of bluebloods on the Eastern seaboard, all of whom would revoke a man's membership at the club for donning white after Labor Day.
Here's the kicker: Villegas hails from Colombia, parts of which are south of the Equator. That means in parts of Colombia, it's springtime, and the Labor Day rule need not apply. Let the white pants rule!
See? It all fits my larger point, which is: Golf got a much-needed blast of freshness on Sunday with Villegas' win. We can now say, with gusto, "Welcome to the fiesta, Camilo", and we can also note that I use the word "blast" purposely, as I cannot recall any golfer in history ripping the golf ball with such prominent veins bursting through his biceps. Yes, Tiger is as fit as an NFL defensive back, but Villegas brings the body fat/workout thing to a different, leaner level. Put it this way: If Villegas and Tiger tried to wile away a rain delay with an arm-wrestling contest, they might have to go Best of 7.
We're nearing the end of the post-Tiger Era of '08, and we've learned some valuable things: Anthony Kim appears a fixture on leader boards for years to come … Kenny Perry can get hot with the best; and skip majors with the best … Vijay Singh will take any and all cash Tiger leaves on the operating room table … and now Camilo (Spiderman) Villegas has proved to himself that he can, after all, do this thing.
Villegas is almost a necessary character in a golf world that will play out in the massive shadow of the NFL season for the next month, and will be needed to stoke some media fires come January when the '09 season needs a story line other than "TIGER STROKES 15 PRACTICE PUTTS ON ORLANDO GREEN" and "TIGER HIRES WORLD'S BEST-PAID NANNY TO TAKE CARE OF TWO LITTLE ONES WHILE HE STROKES 15 MORE PRACTICE PUTTS ON ORLANDO GREEN."
As for Villegas' Spiderman move of crouching nearly on his belly to read greens, I'm going to go ahead and call out Spiderman to see if he can even attempt those Villegas contortions. I'm saying even Spiderman can't twist and tuck and bend like the Colombian Pretzel. The only person who can, in all probability, runs a Bikram Yoga Studio somewhere in Berkeley, California. Spiderman might pop a hammy, and that's never a good look for a guy in blue-and-red tights.
It's all welcome and new, and I think we should dig it: The outfits … the ball striking … the Schwarzenegger-esque pipes … the Spiderman/Bikram Yoga move … the brashness to wear white after Labor Day … come on down, Camilo Villegas – you're fresh enough to take the sports world's attention – at least during commercials of NFL games, that is.
Broadcast moment of the week
" (Nothing) " – Vijay Singh, blowing past reporters after all but clinching the FedEx Cup and a $10 million payout.
Last week, Vijay Singh was the toast of the town and the self-proclaimed "Best Putter in the World." This week, apparently, he's the "Worst Interview Subject in the World."
This week, reports from Bellerive are that Singh brushed past NBC and print media as if he were Sarah Palin ducking a foreign policy Q-and-A. Oh, wait. I'm sorry. That's a cheap shot. In the interest of being "fair and balanced," let's say Singh blew past NBC and print media as if he were Barack Obama ducking a "yes" or "no" vote in the Senate.
Considering the fact that a Villegas win would net Singh – cue your Dr. Evil voice here – "Ten …. Million … Dollars …" and considering the guy has won the last two weeks running, one would think he'd be gracious enough to stop for a few moments and share his innermost thoughts for the golf fans out there wondering what it's like to win – and again, cue your Dr. Evil voice here – "Ten … Million … Dollars".
Now, perhaps Singh had to rush off to see his son in a piano recital. Or, perhaps he wanted to catch "Football Night in America" and see the extent of Tom Brady's knee injury. But it's not likely. It's more likely Singh was just being selfish, and that's never a good look.
Besides, he shouldn't be subjecting himself to bad karma. Technically, he has to finish all four rounds at the Tour Championship in three weeks to win the $10 mil, so a DQ would prevent him from his Dr. Evil moment.
Can't you just see Sergio and all those close to the big money dispatching legions of spies and cronies to try to bait Singh into a rules violation at The Tour Championship? They'll be distracting him with coughs as he moves his ball marker out of a fellow player's putting line; they'll get telephoto lenses out to see if he's grounding a club in a hazard; they'll toss fake golf balls into the fairway in an attempt to deke him into hitting the wrong one. All's fair in love, war and the FedEx Cup, Veej!
Scorecard of the week
66-72-68-74 – Kenny Perry, tie-44th, BMW Championship.
We've discussed, at length, Kenny Perry's singular quest to make the Ryder Cup team, an obsession that caused him to skip both the U.S. and British Opens in the same summer. Despite this column's difference of opinion with Perry on the importance of majors, there was ultimately respect given for the way Perry attacked his task, and clinched his spot on Cap'n Zinger's team.
Now, however, it's a different story: Holy Hit the Wall, Batman!
A quick rundown of Perry's last five starts as we head into Valhalla: tie-66th at Bridgestone, WD at the PGA Championship, tie-48th at Barclay's, tie-80th at the Deutsche Bank, and now the tie-44th at Bellerive.
All we can hope is, once Perry hears the strumming of a bluegrass banjo; once he sees a gracefully fenced horse farm; once he sees Rick Pitino with an inside-the-ropes pass, his Kentucky Love will kick into overdrive and he'll become a ball-striking, putt-sinking machine for Team USA. May Kentucky's powers heal Kenny Perry!
Mulligan of the week
LPGA Commish Carolyn Bivens dropped her major bomb of an English-only story on us three weeks ago, and then went underground – as if she were Sarah Palin ducking an interview with a major TV network. Wait. That's a cheap shot. Palin has agreed to meet with ABC this week. So let's be "fair and balanced." Bivens dropped her major bomb of an English-only story on us three weeks ago, and then went underground – as if she were Barack Obama voting "present" on a controversial piece of legislation.
At any rate, this column would weigh in against Bivens' English-only policy, in fairly strident terms, too. Surely, non-English speaking LPGA stars can understand their need to say "Cup and a half outside" to their pro-am partners without facing a penalty of suspension if they can't pass the SAT's English test. As the gracious Lorena Ochoa said, the threat of suspension for players who don't pass an English language proficiency test is "a little drastic."
It is drastic, and it is at odds with a general understanding of human nature, and of a spirit of globalism. The idea that a Korean player needs to give a victory speech in English to please sponsors is surely from another century, and surely something that can be worked on without threat of taking away one's playing privileges. What happens when, say, Paula Creamer or Cristie Kerr or Brittany Lincicome wins the Evian Masters and doesn't give the winner's speech in French? What happens when Juli Inkster or Annika Sorenstam or Helen Alfredsson wins in Korea and can't give the winner's speech in Korean?
Thankfully, Bivens came out with a statement last Friday saying the LPGA was not going through with its threat of suspension, and would reconsider its options before coming out with a new policy in 2009.
So, Commish Bivens … thank you for using that mulligan!
Where do we go from here?
Believe it or not, golf goes into hibernation this week. No PGA Tour events; no FedEx Cup; no Vijay Singh blowing past reporters after winning $10 mil.
I think this is a good idea. We'll rest, we'll ponder it all, and we'll be hungry and ready by the time the Ryder Cup starts a week from Friday. Kenny Perry will be ready … will you?