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British Open Notes: Terrible Tom Still Killin' It

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↵Big Story Number One
– Terrible Tom Keeps Killing It. Tom Watson rolled in a 75-foot birdie bomb on the 18th hole today to take a share of the 36-hole lead with Steve Marino at five-under-par. You still have to wonder if his 59-year-old legs will be able to hold up over the weekend, but there’s no doubt that Watson winning (or even contending) on Sunday for another British Open (he’s won five, to date) would be one of the biggest sports stories of 2009.
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↵Big Story Number Two – Tempestuous Turnberry Kills Tiger. A spate of disastrous play on the blustery back nine led Tiger Woods to miss the cut at five-over-par for the tournament. It's only the second major cut he’s missed in his career to this point, the other being the 2006 U.S. Open, which followed close on the heels of the death of his father. Today, although he steadied himself over the last four holes and came back from a nadir of +7, he drove like a weekend duffer out there. It was ridiculous. At one point, he hunted through the fescue amidst an adoring throng of ornery Scots for yet another of his wayward tee-shots. Add to that the insult that he was routinely out-driven by this skinny little Japanese dude who looked like he should be playing the gong for The Boredoms. I tell you, if that isn’t a metaphor for international relations, I don’t know what is.
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↵How about Mark Calcavecchia doing the 20-year reunion tour?
All the old-guy talk is about Watson, but man, ol' Calc is quite a blast from the past at the top of a major leaderboard. Even casual fans probably remember him wondering how they were going to fit his name onto the Claret Jug at Troon in 1989 after he won the first three-man, four-hole playoff in the history of the Open Championship. He beat Wayne Grady and Greg Norman in that playoff.
↵By the way, Tom Watson at Turnberry has special resonance for me. It was soon after Watson’s legendary Duel in the Sun with Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry in 1977, that a very little seven-year-old Large started playing highly competitive backyard Nerf golf with his nine-year-old next-door neighbor Bobby Dumont, and we both started battling daily for the right to be Tom Watson in our imaginary British Opens. Having to be Nicklaus, the greatest golfer who ever lived, was considered a grievous insult. You have to have been alive in the '70s and know just how cool Tom Watson was back then to understand that in retrospect.
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Rapidly approaching middle-age myself, I find watching golf instructive as to what I will soon face in life. It seems as if it’s possible that I am going to purchase a Lexus, and it also looks likely that I will soon understand what “consulting” is. One thing that appears all but certain is that I’m going to urinate a lot. And I mean, A LOT. I’ll have to run out of business meetings, suddenly disappear from golf outings, or hunting outings, or camping outings, or any of the other countless manly outings I embark upon regularly with my three other male friends who look exactly like me. I will have to urinate so often that I frequently will find myself running the wrong way on an escalator. It’s going to be a real pain, but then, thankfully there’s this drug I can take that will make it go away, and then I’ll be able to play golf again. I’m thinking about calling and asking my doctor about it right now. Suddenly I have to pee.
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↵Another point on the relentless ads front:
This dog that is so worried about his bone that he can’t sleep at night has some serious problems. I mean, dude, those bones cost like three bucks.
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↵It occurred to me today
that the fact that we routinely think of Sergio Garcia as the reigning Best Player Never to Have Won a Major is a bit of an insult to his habitual Ryder Cup partner Lee Westwood. Here’s a guy who’s won the Order of Merit, contended at several majors, and consistently been among the top four or five European players in the world for the last 10 years. I’d say he’s without question a better player than Garcia, even when each guy is at the top of his game. Let me add, however, that I have a feeling about Westwood right now. I think there’s a chance he could get off the schneid at this Open. That crowd of 50-somethings is unlikely to hold on at the top of the leaderboard, and as much as I’d love to see Steve (a.k.a. Dan) Marino pull a John Daly, it ain’t gonna happen. Westwood is perfectly positioned to battle it out with Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh for the Claret Jug.
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↵And speaking of Vijay
… in my book he holds the all-time title as The Best Golfer Ever to Be So Stultifyingly Boring That I Collapse into a Coma Every Time He’s on My Television. Seriously, the guy is like The Curious Case of Benjamin… zzz-zzz-zzzzz…. I try to say his name out loud and the next thing I know I’m taking a nap.
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↵I play golf only when I absolutely can’t avoid it, and I suck at it.
I find the game really annoying to play, to be honest, and the overall aesthetic here in the States that surrounds it is completely hideous. Pleated khakis, patterned polos, visors (freaking visors), and those courses that look like some terrible, bourgeois nightmare of nature crafted by Man to look like “Nature,” which always results in Technicolor disaster.
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↵I bring this up only to say that The British Open is completely awesome and every year around this time I find myself wanting to start playing golf. The Scottish links courses are exhilarating to look at on TV, with the lighthouses and the manorial estates and the whitecaps crashing in the distance, and the wind whipping through the fescue and the undulating fairways and greens that actually look like land behaving like land. It makes me want to wear a kilt, or go play golf in a torrential rainstorm, or read P.G. Wodehouse with a glass of tawny port in a leather chair at some dissolute social club. Most of all, it makes me wish I was rich and could afford to set foot on any of these courses. Rich white dudes, man … they get just about everything wrong that can be gotten wrong in this life, and yet on the other hand, they do have a bunch of money and can head on over to the Bonnie for a round at Turnberry any old time they feel like it. To paraphrase Carl Spackler, they got that going for them.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.