Let’s get real here.
The moment the USGA announced it was going Springsteen-U2 at Madison Square Garden and giving us a Tiger-Phil pairing at Torrey, our golf attention spans stopped paying attention to this past weekend’s activities. Who won at Memphis? We can’t care when the winner gets seersucker. Who won the McDonald’s LPGA? If it ain’t Annika or Lorena, we can’t waste time.
So while this slice of cyberspace is usually turned over to the Fan-on-the-Couch Monday Morning Caddying, let’s instead use today as an excuse to look ahead to the “Thrilla in La Jolla," even if “Jolla” doesn’t rhyme with “Thrilla” as neatly as Manila did. How about: “The Big Story at Torrey”? Nah. How about: “Rough Stuff on the Bluff”? Nah. And since I can’t come up with anything to rhyme with hang-gliders or nude beaches – both features part of the ambiance at Torrey – we’ll just soldier ahead and offer our exclusive wish list of Five Things We Want to See at Torrey:
1. Tiger and Phil, Together
Oh, wait. That’s taken care of. Thank you, USGA. As a side note, can you imagine the aerial shot of Thursday and Friday’s crowd dispersal? You’ll have 35,000 fans on one hole, and 17 holes empty. It’ll look like ants pouring around a sugar cube on one hole, and total desolation elsewhere. Trevor Immelman could shoot 62 and nobody would believe him: No eyewitnesses.
2. Somebody to Identify The Defending Champion
I know you’re all golf fans if you’re reading here, and I know you all remember Oakmont’s champion (or do you?), but seriously: Has any U.S. Open champ gotten less run than Angel Cabrera? I mean, besides Michael Campbell – another of our forgotten national champions. If Cabrera phoned down to a Del Mar sushi joint and said, “Table for 4, Cabrera”, he’d get: “I’m sorry, sir, we’re holding that table for Brad and Bart Bryant, and Robert Garrigus is on the waiting list ahead of you.” Respect the Wild Bull of the Pampas!
3. Lots of Those Cute Kids Photos of the Greats at the Junior Worlds
Torrey Pines has loomed large for the likes of Tiger, Phil and Ernie since back in the days when they all wore corduroy OP shorts and feathered their hair with combs in their back pockets. Torrey was site of the Junior Worlds, and the legends all played there as they battled changing voices and acne. I get a huge kick out of those Ernie-at-13 photos, where you can see him young, innocent and free of mental demons, or Phil, smirking even at age 11, or Tiger, at age 10, smiling broadly, but still looking to kick somebody’s ever-loving rear end.
4. The Pat Perez “Tour” of Torrey
San Diego’s bad boy could be the wild card of the Open. He’s probably played it more times than anybody in the field, Mickelson included, and could show you the best spot to stomp out a cigarette butt on each hole. While NBC is sure to milk the grandiose week for sentiment, given its soaring trumpet score and Father’s Day treacle, I’d love to see Perez give an MTV-style tour of Torrey: “And here is where I first chucked a club off the bluff … dude, it helicoptered, like, a hundo yards …” You think I exaggerate Perez’s unorthodox style. Oh, yeah? Show me another PGA Tour player whose Web site features not only The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” as its home page music, but also has photos from his second row seats at an Iron Maiden concert. Rock on, Pat.
5. Tiger and Phil, Together
I know, I know. The USGA handled it for Thursday and Friday. I’d just like an encore: On Sunday. Pretty please?
Mulligan of the week
You know how we feel about Lorena Ochoa here. She’s the present and the future all at once, and with Annika riding her Callaway horse into the sunset at year’s end, the more we can build the Lorena Legend, the better.
That’s why it was devastating to see Ochoa come up short on Sunday and watch as Yani Tseng won the LPGA. Granted, Tseng, at 19, could be Ochoa’s next great rival. After all, she has a major as a teenager, and also can claim credit for starting the downfall of Michelle Wie with her 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links win over Wie, who was defending champ. Wie cried her eyes out after that loss and, honestly, hasn’t been the same since. It was the first puncture of the Wie myth, and now, four years later, she’s nose-deep into some textbooks at Stanford, awaiting her first win as a pro while Tseng is having caviar and plotting Major No. 2.
Anyway, back to the MOW (Mulligan of the Week). Wanting to see Ochoa pull off a miracle, imagine our thrill when, three back of the lead, her chip on the par-5 16th tracked and tracked and tracked and – bingo! – fell center cut for an eagle … oh, no!
Only it bounced off the flagstick – smack center of the stick! – and out of the hole. Even Li’l Lorena, the portrait of calm, hit the deck in agony.
The golf gods can be so, so wrong.
Larceny. Robbery. Felony. Call it whatever you want, but somebody …get that woman a mulligan.
Broadcast moment of the week
“I’ve got some pants at home, but I don’t have a jacket.” – Justin Leonard, asked on The Golf Channel if he owned a seersucker jacket, his prize for winning at Memphis.
Justin Leonard has seersucker pants. And you wonder why I mentioned that Pat Perez’s Iron Maiden concert photos make him stand out on the PGA Tour.
Something tells me Pat Perez does not own seersucker pants. But he might have once treed a kid at school who did own seersucker pants.
Scorecard of the week
74-66-67-69 – tie 1st, lost in playoff, Trevor Immelman, St. Jude Championship.
I know asking for a Grand Slam from our Masters champion is silly, improbable, ridiculous and, for good measure, almost physically impossible. Just saying, though, that Immelman finished birdie-birdie-birdie to get into that playoff at Memphis, and just saying that he has that placidity so common to his countrymen – Ernie and Retief – who each has won a pair of U.S. Opens by staying cool when all about them are freaking out from U.S. Open pressure.
So, Trevor: Nice work. Have a feeling we’ll see you somewhere in the mix on Sunday.
Where do we go from here?
Race you to the sushi bars in Del Mar! Guarantee we’ll get a table ahead of Angel Cabrera, at the very least.
- Yani Tseng
- Lorena Ochoa
- Justin Leonard