You know the deal, sports fan. It’s all about the new, new thing.
Out with the moldy, in with the fresh. Nobody wants to be caught playing 8-tracks when your friend is burning CDs; nobody wants to ask “Beta or VHS?” when your friend is going Blu-Ray.
As a result, I am hereby petitioning the golf gods: Can I trade Tiger for Lorena in my “Best Player on the Planet” pool?
It breaks down pretty simple. Lorena: Today’s News. Tiger: Yesterday’s News.
Don’t laugh, chauvinist pig. A glance at the C.V. of each player makes a convincing case. See if you can guess which is Tiger and which is Lorena.
Player A’s 2008 season: 6 starts, 5 wins, 1 for 1 in major championships.
Player B’s 2008 season: 5 starts, 3 wins, 0 for 1 in major championships.
Oh, and did I add that Player B just had knee surgery and is out for a month?
Sorry, Tiger. It’s a cold, cruel world. You’re good, kid. It’s just that right now – Lorena is better. Maybe if Tiger is lucky, Lorena will start texting him with friendly barbs. After all, Tiger and Annika Sorenstam famously texted each other back in the heyday of the mid-‘00s after major championship wins. You know, back when Tiger won majors.
Possible text from Lorena to Tiger: “R U going 2 win anytime soon? LOL.”
Another possible text from Lorena to Tiger: “Want 2 C my major trophy? 2 bad I can’t C urs.”
You, the astute reader, of course know that I refer to Lorena Ochoa, the two-time reigning LPGA Rolex Player of the Year, hard at work on her third. Her win at the Ginn Open in Florida Sunday was her fourth consecutive ‘W’ in four starts, and Byron Nelson, resting up in heaven, doesn’t need to ask about those footsteps he hears: They belong to a petite 5-foot-6 Mexican prodigy who runs half-marathons and does triathlons in her spare time.
I figure Lorena is first-name only now. She’s joined Tiger, Phil, Ernie, Vijay and Annika in first-name territory. Only difference: She’s better than all of them.
And what an appealing player she is. In an era where Tiger and Annika turned golf into a Bowflex infomercial with eye-popping musculature, Lorena avoids the bench press/Chuck Zito routine. She’s a wisp of a player, petite, yet powerful. Li’l Lorena may be skinnier than a 2-iron, but compromises nothing off the tee.
This is not to overlook her personality appeal, as well. She’s a proud Mexican who is fiercely close to her family, and hasn’t sold out for the standard “lives in Orlando, Florida” line in her bio. She maintains her only home in her native country, and acknowledges her role as a Mexican sporting hero. When adoring fans follow her around the course, the shy superstar will still take time to gratefully acknowledge their ‘Lo-re-na!’ chants. Not comparing or anything, but I believe Tiger (Iceman) Woods last acknowledged a fan sometime in the Clinton Administration.
And he’s still pretty good. All I’m saying is, sometimes – and sometimes with darn good reason – we get caught up in Tiger’s World, not realizing there’s a bright, blue, beautiful golf world out there. With 4 wins in her last 4 starts, Lorena is an honored citizen in that world. She sits this week out, heading back to Mexico for a family dinner on Monday night planned by her Mom, attended by her siblings. Then, it’s back to America in two weeks for the event at Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Anybody want to bet against her?
Scorecard of the week
•69-65-64-71 – Boo Weekley, first place, Verizon Heritage, Harbour Town Links, Hilton Head, S.C.
Or, as the Verizon Heritage at Harbour Town is known, by its alternate name: Hangover Central.
What a perfect place for the post-Masters PGA Tour stop. It’s a short commute from Augusta. It’s a quiet, mellow place so that stressed-out players can unwind and purge memories of 4-putts on the 14th green at Augusta National. It’s the equivalent of a Sunday morning hangover, the kind you cure with a cheeseburger, a milkshake and a 2-hour mid-day nap.
And Weekley is the perfect post-Masters winner. He’s loose, he’s funny, he’s deep-fried Southern and he played with his Mom in the Pro-Am. Weekley's perfect answer to owning two garish red plaid coats from Harbour Town, having won in ’07, also: “I can wear one on Saturday, one on Sunday.”
Mulligan of the week
•’ll level with you all and admit I don’t watch much Champions Tour golf. However, when I hear that Scott Hoch and Tom Watson are engaged in a final-round showdown at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, I’m in. After all, you have two charismatic players with decorated resumes. The catch: Watson won 8 majors, Hoch won none.
Hoch had a darn good chance to win the Masters in 1989 but – and it pains me just to type this – he MISSED an 18-inch putt to allow Nick Faldo to win his first green jacket.
Fast-forward 19 years to a little-watched Champions Tour event, and Hoch has a 4-footer to force overtime with Watson… and… he… missed… it.
Poor Scott Hoch.
Of course, I say “poor Scott Hoch” when he’s earned over $20 million combined on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, won 11 times on Tour and was a Ryder Cupper.
Still – poor Scott Hoch.
Somebody give that man a mulligan.
Broadcast moment of the week
•"Maybe we should start calling her ‘El Toro" – a CBS commentator during the Ginn Open, but I couldn’t tell whether it was Beth Daniel, Val Skinner or Mary Bryan.
Listen, I only took four years of high school Spanish, and ‘Piso Mojado’ is about as sophisticated as I get these days, knowing the bathroom floor in the airport is wet and dangerous, but even my tiny brain knows it’s probably not a good idea to nickname a female golfer something that begins with ‘El’, and not ‘La’. Already, her detractors in the past few years had slapped her with ‘Ochoka’ because of her failure to close the deal on majors earlier in her career, but that nickname is about as hip as Annika stock about now.
Time for a new one. ‘La Reina’ – or, The Queen, anybody? How about just shouting, like a lout: ‘TU ERES LA MUJER!” (You da woman!) every time she tees off?
Where do we go from here?
•The PGA Tour heads to a venerable stop: The Byron Nelson in Dallas. We all miss Lord Byron. His invites were veritable mandates to attend, and it used to be one of the great sights in the sport to see Tiger, Phil, Ernie and Vijay all go kiss the ring after holing out on 18.
We miss you, sir. Hope you’re up in the clouds, rooting on Lorena “La Reina” Ochoa.
- Lorena Ochoa
- Annika Sorenstam