The week after a major championship, as we've noted here before, can be a combination of letdown and chaos. We're all still processing what we just saw, we're all still wondering where it fits in golf history's books, we're all still trying to learn to pronounce "Oosthuizen."
So, naturally, the week after a major we end up in a place none of us thought we'd be.
We end up in Sweden.
In a week where all sorts of stuff happened – Dean Wilson and Morgan Pressel blew 54-hole leads; Tiger Woods received yet another ding to his aura when a 14-year-old golfing infant named Jim Lou broke his record as youngest U.S. Junior Amateur winner ever – the weirdest stuff was Swedish, in the end.
For starters, Carl Pettersson won the Canadian Open, and answered questions afterward in the weirdest Swedish-North Carolina hybrid accent ever. He may be, in fact, the only man with a combination Swedish-North Carolina hybrid accent, owing to being born and raised in Scandinavia, yet attending college at North Carolina State and calling the Tar Heel State home.
Who else can claim such a dual lifestyle? Think ABBA meets Jesse Helms.
Moreover, Pettersson proudly flouts the whole PGA Tour fitness kick. In an era when Tiger made pecs and abs the chic words of the 2000s, Petterson answers with a couple of keywords of his own: beer and pizza.
He is, shall we say, of ample build, and if you think we're making fun of the guy, think again. Turns out Pettersson needs to be zaftig, to play his best golf. Two years ago, he tried the whole "stay fit" thing and showed up with a new waist size. Guess what: his golf stunk. His swing lost its rhythm. He was like a guy in a fake identity.
So, back to the buffet line for Pettersson. Guess what? His golf got good again. He already had three top-10s this year coming into the Canadian Open, then caught fire after making the cut on the number.
True to Petterson's nature, he said he sat with fellow tour pro Jay Williamson in the locker room Friday to watch the cut line, after Williamson said "let's have a beer and see how this thing goes." Seven beers later, by Pettersson's estimation, he made the cut – and needed his caddie to drive him home.
Some hangover: Pettersson shot 60 on Saturday to force his way into Dean Wilson's final Sunday pairing, then blitzed Wilson with six birdies in an eight-hole stretch to shoot past him for the win. Pettersson attacked the back nine like it was an all-you-can-eat spread – a masterful performance.
And he was only half of the Swedish Chronicles from the weekend.
The Scandinavian Masters was held in Stockholm and drew more interest than usual because of the presence of reigning British Open champion Louis (Looie O) Oosthuizen. Those who felt Looie O was a fluke and were waiting for his "79-79: MC" scorecard had to be disappointed when the sweet-swinging South African strung together rounds of 67, 67 and 70 and was only one shot off the lead going into Sunday. That Looie O shot 73 on Sunday and finished tied for fourth was still an impressive follow-up to his Claret Jug – that he did it while witnessing the flowing locks and wacked-out personality of Richard S. Johnson's caddie is a whole 'nother deal.
What, you missed the Loopy Looper called Anders Timmel, who was toting Johnson's bag?
With hair that combined the look of Wimbledon-heyday Borg with "Thirtysomething" actor Peter Horton, with a dash of the Geico Caveman on the side, and with a beard that combined the same three icons in its look, Timmel made the Scandinavian Masters must-see TV, and affirmed Sweden's wacky place in this week's golf landscape.
Timmel, you see, is a Stockholm DJ. He was only on Johnson's bag because Johnson's regular man, Lance Ten Broeck, was playing in the Senior British Open at Carnoustie. So, Johnson asked his Swedish DJ buddy to tote the sack. Naturally.
It produced a couple of memorable moments.
First, when Johnson sank a birdie somewhere on Sunday's 18, Timmel, standing to the side holding the flagstick, serenaded Johnson's bird with a melodic and bizarre chant of "LO-LA!", clearly caught by TV cameras. Now, perhaps "LO-LA!" is some sort of Swedish slang for "You da MAN!" Or, maybe Timmel is a huge fan of the Kinks, and was thinking: "Now I'm not the world's most passionate guy/But when Johnson makes a birdie I just want to cry/L-o-l-a, Loooo-la!"
Secondly, when Johnson made his 30-foot birdie putt for a dramatic one-stroke win and his first victory since 2002, Timmel, wild mane flowing in the wind, jumped on Johnson's back from behind for one of the great golf photos of 2010, which could be captioned: "When lions attack golfers: Watch out!"
It was a genuinely amusing thing, and for that, we must thank Anders (The DJ'ing Caddie) Timmel for getting us through another weird and wild post-major week.
Scorecard of the week
70-69-68-67 – 14-under 274, Jiyai Shin, winner, LPGA Evian Masters, France.
I went and saw all-time music legend Paul McCartney two weeks ago in San Francisco, and when he broke out the Wings ditty "Let 'Em In," I could have sworn he was talking about the top spot in the LPGA world rankings.
For the fifth time this year, we have a change at No. 1, and for the second time this year, it's South Korea's Shin who is the one. Macca could have sung: "Sister Lorena … Cristie Kerr … Japan has Ai … Jiyai Shin … open the door, and let 'em innnnnnn …"
Thus ends my McCartney lyric tribute section of the column.
Still, it seems like they're all marching through the door, one by one, taking their turns at No. 1. I lose track after a while, like "Sister Susie" and "Martin Luther" and all those McCartney characters.
With the win, in which Shin charged back and beat 54-hole leader Morgan Pressel, she has now logged more victories since 2008 than any player on the women's tour. This is good for Shin, and she seems like a delightful personality and a clutch player, making that big putt on 18 for the tournament.
But if the women's tour is to gain any kind of traction, it needs a dominant performer, a la Annika and Lorena, one-name entities. Democracy doesn't play well for a women's game looking for marketing traction.
With the Women's British Open this week, it would be a good time for Shin to cement her top ranking. Lord knows Michelle Wie isn't coming anytime soon. In fact, Lexi Thompson has done a pretty good job of erasing Wie from our memory banks, driving it as far as Wie at the tender age of 15 and shooting a dynamite 67 on Sunday in France to finish one shot out of the lead and tied for second. Too bad Thompson isn't playing at Birkdale this week.
Mulligan of the week
Corey Pavin has an interesting situation. He may actually be at a point in his Ryder Cup captaincy where the idea of Pavin playing for Team USA would be a more productive option than Tiger Woods playing for Team USA.
And I'm not kidding.
Now, now, I know the idea of player-captain went out with the Sans-a-belt era, but Pavin, once again, was performing at the highest level of his field at the Senior British Open. He already has a tie for seventh at the Colonial this year, and just last month was in a playoff at the Travelers in Connecticut, two events on the regular PGA Tour.
Sunday, at Carnoustie, he found himself in an engaging duel with Methuselah in golf spikes, Bernhard Langer himself. It came down to Carnoustie's famous 18th hole, with the "Barry Burn" fronting the green, and Langer sporting a two-stroke lead.
Langer made quite the statement by laying up on 18, playing for a bogey on the par-4 hole. It could be seen as a smart move, as I was just saying to my good friend, Jean van de Velde.
It could also, however, be seen as a slap in Pavin's face, saying in essence: Ain't no way you're making birdie here, Li'l Guy.
So Pavin had about a 45-foot putt from the edge of the green for bird, and I thought it would have been so beautiful for him to do the unlikely and roll that baby home … only he left it a good nine feet short.
Given the chance to rattle Langer, and make for an Alcoa Fantastic Finish, I say we trot out to that spot again, put Pavin's ball in the same spot, make sure he gives it a good run to at least give it a chance and … give that man a mulligan!
Broadcast moment of the week
“Does anybody know who Langer's caddie is?” – Peter Alliss, ABC, during the 72nd hole of the Senior British Open. “I only know him as ‘Steve'” – Judy Rankin, ABC, answering Alliss. “Actually, Judy, his name is Terry Holt and he's a longtime caddie from Orlando.” – Curtis Strange, ABC, rather bluntly answering Rankin.
This “BMOW” comes with a major caveat: I think Judy Rankin is one of the best in the business – understated, in command, gimmick-free.
It just so happens that she got thrown a hot potato for which she had no oven mitt. If she could do it all over again, I'm sure Rankin would either just lay low, or give the honest, “I do not know, Peter” answer. Unfortunately, when she said she only knew him as “Steve,” it gave Strange a chance to barge in and flex his knowledge in a way that sounded awkward for a Sunday morning TV view.
Again, Strange was only delivering the correct information. And again, Rankin is almost always bulletproof.
But this had to be included, if only for the comic value of the idea of Rankin trying to get Langer's caddie's attention all through the back nine:
Rankin: (running up to caddie on fairway to get club choice) “Steve! Steve!” Terry Holt: (No answer) Rankin: (conspiratorial whisper) “Psssssst. Over here! Steve! It's me, Judy. Steeeeeeeve.” Terry Holt: (staring blankly ahead) Rankin: (wolf whistles) “STEVE-O! ESTEBAN! STEVE-A-RINO!” Terry Holt: (no reaction)
Yes, we all make mistakes. Hell, I make ‘em every day. In fact, you've probably found a half-dozen if you've read this far.
We still dig you, Judy. Keep doing your thing.
Where do we go from here?
The Women's British Open, of course, will catch our eye from Birkdale. As noted earlier, 15-year-old phenom Lexi Thompson is not entered, but all the heavyweights are, including U.S. Women's Open champion Paula Creamer who, despite playing with the injured thumb, could make for a heck of a summer with a double-dip major run.
The ladies, in fact, probably outshine the men this week, who go to Sam Snead's old haunts in West Virginia to the Greenbrier Classic. Unfortunately, Slammin' Sammy's name can only go so far – only one player in the world's top 20, No. 5 Jim Furyk – is entered to play this week.
- Dean Wilson