By sundown last Friday in Fort Worth, good ole Lefty had blown the Phil-Moves-To-No.-1 storyline straight to hell.
Phil Mickelson missed a cut when he had a chance to give us poets and philosophers a reason to scribe odes to the real and literal symbolism of Tiger falling from the world's top ranking.
Nope. Not this time. He became a DJ instead, "MC Lefty."
It's almost as if Mickelson missed the cut to remind us how ridiculously epic Tiger was throughout the last decade-plus. Lost amid divorce settlements and mistress counts are some of Tiger's more remarkable numbers, like not missing a cut from Sept. 1997 to April 2005. He then only missed three cuts the next half-decade, until plowing his Escalade into a tree. Now, he's got his own things going on.
But Lefty? He'll throw you a missed cut just for fun, as if he's bored and needs to spice things up. Mickelson has now missed a cut in every year of his career since turning pro in 1992. By way of comparison, he missed 21 cuts in the span from 1997-2005 when Tiger was cut-free.
So Phil's MC is just a reminder that, as much as some of us want to anoint him the king of the golf world in Tiger's exile (and really, he is) it's just a sloppier reign than we're used to from Tiger.
Tiger kept his king's robe neatly pressed and ironed. Lefty's king robe – while still regal – has a couple of guacamole stains.
Phil's weekend absence left us groping for a meaty story to celebrate Memorial Day, and the temptation was strong to turn our eyeballs to the 50-and-over set, where a Senior PGA Championship was played in the Rocky Mountains involving Freddy (Most Beloved Man in Golf) Couples with a chance to win a major.
And we'll get to that.
While I was mourning Phil's missed opportunity, a strange thing happened: Zach Johnson won again.
It's not strange that Zach Johnson won. What's strange is, guys like me keep overlooking Zach Johnson's career.
That makes seven wins for Johnson, and more impressively, five since he won the 2007 Masters. He could have easily been written off as a Masters fluke (cough, cough, Tommy Aaron, cough, cough, Charles Coody, cough, cough), but instead is looking like a player intent on forging something.
When I say "closely resemble Johnson's profile," that means, essentially, that when you read that Weir and Immelman and Johnson had won the Masters, about 90 percent of you thought to yourselves: "Holy cow, I'd completely forgotten about that."
Well, bully for Zach. He compares quite favorably to both Weir and Immelman.
"Weirsy," as they call him in Canada – making a nickname actually longer than the original name, thus negating the definition of "nickname" – has won only twice in 166 starts since that Masters, and one of those was a Fall Series event. You know, when the rest of us were watching the NFL.
Immelman, while battling a wrist injury that required surgery, has not won since the Masters and, worse, missed 11 of 35 cuts since.
Johnson? He's now won five times in 78 starts since the Masters. A man can wear a plaid jacket quite proudly with those numbers.
Pounding fairways, making putts, going 64-64 on the weekend (!) at Colonial, all the while making you forget that he's been a two-time Presidents Cup team member and '06 Ryder Cupper, and knocking on the door of another Ryder Cup team … not a bad story for Zach Johnson of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
I know, I know. It's not Lefty toppling Tiger, but what are you going to do?
Scorecard of the week
68-71-71-71 – 7-under 271, winner, playoff, Tom Lehman, Champions Tour Senior PGA Championship, Colorado Golf Club.
No messing around here – the Champions Tour event, once again, was more compelling than the PGA Tour event.
And now, Couples' participation in a three-way playoff with Lehman and David Frost in the Rockies trumped weather delays at Colonial, if only because Couples, once again, was a protagonist in that manner of his.
You know that manner of his; both low-key and charismatic, all at once.
Who else can pull off the low-profile/must-watch persona? James Dean comes to mind. Miles Davis, naturally. My wife would tell you Colin Firth, the actor, fits the bill.
He's just Freddy, is all. His golf swing is languid, his toweling off of his grip before the swing is a fun idiosyncrasy, and his golf spikes, of late, have impersonated bedroom slippers.
Oddly, it appeared Couples was wearing more traditional golf shoes at Colorado G.C. Maybe it's an altitude thing. Maybe the slippers don't stay on the feet at elevations over 5,000 feet.
Either way, slippers or no slippers, the magical run of Freddy ran out on the playoff hole with Frost and Lehman.
As is Lehman's wont, he played the playoff hole like a living, breathing human: drive into fairway, iron to green, two-putt for par.
Couples and Frost? Not so much.
Each man would double-bogey the playoff hole in ways so unsightly it almost hurts to recollect.
Let's put it this way: At one point, Couples was staring into a shrub. At another point, Frost spent about 10 minutes clearing pinecones and various random objects in the path of his third shot.
And in the end, there was Lehman, the forgotten man.
His par was enough for his first Champions Tour win without a partner, and reminded us that Lehman was that guy in that Dockers ball cap who actually reached No. 1 in the world in April, 1997, for one week.
Wait. What else happened in April, 1997? Racking brain … racking brain … racking brain … why does the recurring image of a 21-year-old kid in a red sweater hugging his Dad at Augusta National keep coming to my mind?
Yeah. Now you remember why Lehman stopped being No. 1 in the world.
Broadcast moment of the week
“That was weak. That was a weak effort.” – Gary Koch, NBC, assessing Fred Couples' 8-foot bid for birdie and the win at the Senior PGA Championship on the 72nd hole.
Fair play to you, Gary.
With Johnny Miller taking a powder this week, somebody needed to break out the knives. And the best part is, Koch's call was 100 percent pure.
Couples had a dynamite chance to nail down that Senior PGA Championship, and eight feet of a fairly straight putt was certainly not too much to ask. Any great champion would make the putt and hoist his arm high, knowing the big check was coming his way.
No wonder Couples reportedly was peeved after the championship, blazing to his car with only a cursory comment afterwards.
Apparently, even the most mellow of cats can get addled after missing a putt he should have made.
Mulligan of the week
While the temptation is strong to give Couples a mulligan on his 8-footer for the win, other candidates loom large.
How about Freddy's yank of a drive into a shrub on the playoff hole?
How about Frost's tug of a drive into a plugged lie in the bunker on the playoff hole?
And yet, these are all runners-up.
The final twosome of the day featured Lehman and Jay Don Blake, a former PGA Tour journeyman who hadn't won since 1991. Sadly, we'd soon find out why in his final round at Colorado G.C.
For seven holes, things were great. Blake eagled the 7th hole and had a two-shot lead.
Perhaps today was the day!
Or, maybe not.
At the 8th tee box, Blake pulled a 4-iron, made a couple of practice swings and, according to the Associated Press, cold topped his tee shot 30 yards into a ditch.
We now pause for you to feel Jay Don Blake's pain.
He would shoot 76, fade from the scene and only say later of the incident: "It gets in your head."
In the name of humanity, let's go back to that 8th tee, re-set the entire scene and … give that man a mulligan!
Where do we go from here?
UFC has nothing on the showdown looming on Thursday.
To wit: Jack is hosting. Tiger is playing. Lefty is lurking.
Can we call it "The Mayhem at Muirfield Village?"
All I know is, I hope Jay Don Blake isn't hitting the ceremonial tee shot.
Oh, man. That was a cheap shot. Let me sign off before it gets any worse.