He may have shot 75 when he had a chance to win, and he may have made five bogeys even with preferred lies, and he may have lost to a guy who featured an Arizona Diamondbacks logo on his golf shirt, but for my money, Anthony Kim became even more of a star on Sunday at the Canadian Open.
Have I gone mad, you ask? Perhaps, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing. My lofty opinion of Kim has nothing to do with the fact that I recently put my car keys in the refrigerator, and couldn’t find them for hours.
The thing with Kim is, all of a sudden, he’s the name you look for when you flip on CBS. You can’t wait for a camera shot to cut Kim unleashing one of those gargantuan drives, or to catch him quickly sizing up an impossible flip wedge out of thick stuff, then feathering it to 18 inches. When you check leader boards on sports.yahoo.com, you’re now scouring for A. Kim’s round.
It’s a combination of his touch, length, guts, and charisma and, let’s be honest, a lack of El Tigre, but Kim is the guy you hope is in the final twosome. You hoped for it at Birkdale, you got it at Glen Abbey. In the span of one summer, he’s gone from a gaudy belt-buckle wearing phony, to a gaudy belt-buckle wearing real deal.
Heck, I even feared that Kim would be unable to slide that buckle through Customs, but surely even the Mike Weir Fan Club that is Canada will size up the Kim belt buckle at the airport and say: “Hey, hoser, I like the way you play golf, eh? I’ll let this buckle through, but next time, bring me an autographed Mike Weir golf ball and it’ll be easier.”
And yes, here is the point where I apologize for getting both “hoser” and “eh” into a column on the Canadian Open. Hey, it’s a long summer with no Tiger. Cut me a break.
The catch to all of this is, it was Chez Reavie’s day. The kid played brilliantly, doing it in all manner of style. He poured in a bomb for a bird on 8, and made a gutsy up and down for par on 11. He consistently pounded fairways and finished with a flourish, making birdie on 18 to bring national attention in Canada to his Diamondbacks sponsorship, thus spurring two things: 1) reviving bar-room conversations in the Great White North about Randy Johnson’s MLB debut with the now-deceased Montreal Expos back in 1988; and 2) having Canadians everywhere ask: “Who’s Chez Reavie? And does he know that in Quebec, his name is “Reavie House”?”
Reavie winning with Kim in his final twosome just seemed odd, though. Like many of you, I’ve already anointed Kim the Next Big Thing, and Next Big Things don’t shoot 75 in the final twosome with Chez Reavie. But that’s why I think Kim became even more of a star on Sunday. He was the big name on the leader board, and everybody expected him to do something special. He didn’t, but for maybe the first time, we saddled him with expectation, and that means we think the world of him. And, get this: We were surprised when he didn’t do something magical. It’s called star quality. The kid has it, and I expect him to make it grow even more in his next start. Can’t wait.
Scorecard of the week
65-73-70-68 – Lorena Ochoa, Evian Masters, 5th place.
It’s been two months since Lorena (La Reina) Ochoa won an LPGA event, and frankly, I’m a tad worried. I used valuable Yahoo! cyberspace to point out that, in April, after winning 5 of her first 6 starts, she was the single-greatest player on the planet. Yes, that included Tiger.
Alas, Ochoa has battled sadness in her life, as two family members have passed away this summer, and for a young woman so linked to her family, it hasn’t been easy. Remember, even the great Tiger missed the cut at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot following Earl Woods’ death in the spring of 2006.
Still, Ochoa has 6 wins in 14 starts this year, and with the Women’s British Open set for this week, as defending champion, it’s a perfect time for La Reina to take the reins.
Mulligan of the week
Today’s deep thought: John Cook and the British Open … ack.
Sixteen years ago at Muirfield, he had a 2-footer at 17 to maintain a lead on Nick Faldo on the Sunday of the 1992 British Open.
He missed it.
Sixteen years later, he held a 3-shot lead at the 11th tee on the Sunday of the 2008 Senior British Open at Troon, and in glorious Ayrshire sunshine, all he had to do was keep breathing to hold off a former fireman from Kansas named Bruce Vaughan who had never won an event on the PGA Tour or Champions Tour.
He wobbled, hard. Through the grace of the golf gods, he kept a 1-shot lead on 18, and par would win him the graybeard version of the claret jug.
Instead, he drove into the rough and made bogey, and lost to Vaughan on the first playoff hole.
Considering that John Cook is one of golf’s nice guys, and considering that no man needs to have two brutal heartbreaks in Scotland, the home of golf, a decade and a half apart, can we go back to the 18th tee?
And somebody … please give that man a mulligan!
Broadcast moment of the week
“Did you have to learn to swing in French, as well?” – David Feherty to Mike Weir, on learning golf in Canada.
If a tournament is missing the A Team of Nantz and Faldo, and if the leader board has nary a Tiger or Phil in sight, count on the auld Irishman-cum-Texan himself, D. Feherty, to amuse and inform in his enjoyable “Five Questions” feature. Never mind that he never asks five questions, and never mind that his subjects – like an overmatched Mike Weir – rarely can keep up, it’s just a welcome blast of comedy on an otherwise average PGA Tour Sunday.
Where do we go from here?
There’s a lot going on, amigos. If you want to know where Chez Reavie and Anthony Kim are this week, it’s at Firestone for the World Golf Championship event that used to always follow the PGA Championship. In Tim Finchem’s brave new world, Firestone precedes the PGA Championship, the better to set up the “Fed Ex Cup” after the PGA. Whatever, man.
And guess what? Firestone might rank third on the depth chart this week. Above it are the Women’s British Open, with Annika’s last go-round at an LPGA major, and Lorena’s bid to repeat; and maybe even above that is the Reno-Tahoe Open – that’s right, you heard me, the Reno-Tahoe Open – where Michelle Wie makes another regrettable plunge into playing with the big boys. If you like to YouTube industrial accidents, the Reno-Tahoe might be your bag.