Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Transitions Update

A special two part NCAA Tournament edition of the FGR starting with a brief recap of the Transitions Championship followed by a Lambada on Duke's grave.

The Transitions Championship

Luke Donald took down the Transitions Championship by winning a four man playoff with a birdie on the first extra hole and, in the process, continued to pad a resume loaded with the PGA Tour equivalent of community college classes.  In addition to the Transitions, Donald has now won the Honda Classic, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, the Southern Farm Bureau Classic and the Flowbee Home Hair Salon Classic (OK, I made one of those up).*  Tournaments with the word Classic in their names are generally not considered prestigious because they are known for the following three things: (1) Sponsorship problems, (2) Easy courses where players shoot 59, and (3) Tiger blows them off like he's late for breakfast at a Perkins Pancake House . . . BAM! (At least he used to before he recently started trying to act like a regular guy which frankly is getting a little creepy.  I keep waiting for a circuit to blow in one of his post-round interviews, "You know Peter, I hit the ball well today . . . I hit the ball well today . . . I hit the ball well today . . .")

"Hi honey, I'm glad you're here.
Those men accosted me!"
Donald's win means that, despite already being tossed-out by security once, he was able to sneak back into the top spot in the world rankings. I tried that move at a bar once and was literally carried out above the crowd and thrown out feet first.  The timing was perfect because the future FGW had just pulled-up to give me a ride home. I believe it was at that moment, when she saw me come flying out the door, that she first thought, "I'm going to marry that man."  (Unfortunately, it was not so much "Sweet, I just won $1,000 in the lottery and I'm going to marry that man!"  It was more like a "I just got sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service and, God help me, I'm going to marry that man.")  What was my point again?  Oh yeah.  When the top 12 players in your ranking system have won a combined three majors, then it's time to fix your system.  (I think I just figured out how I'm spending the rest of my day).

As is often the case in golf, however, the more entertaining story was about the guy who didn't win.  In this case, that guy was Ernie Els who stepped onto the 16th tee at 14 under par with a one shot lead.  He played two perfect shots to leave himself a four foot birdie putt which would have put him up by two.  He missed it . . .badly.  He then blew his tee shot on the 17th way right of the green and failed to get up and down which dropped him into a tie for first place.  On 18, he pulled his second shot into the left fringe and then an average chip left him another four foot putt that would have gotten him into a playoff.

"You getting the whole belly
putter up there Doc?"
Unfortunately for Ernie, the putter has become the albatross around his neck and you can see it in his face when he's confronted with a critical putt like he had on Sunday.  (If you haven't guessed by now, he missed it).  It's the same face of awkward anticipation that every guy makes when the doctor pulls out the right handed glove, spends five minutes putting it on and then takes a phone call in the examining room while adjusting it and readjusting it.  If you don't believe me, turn down the volume on this post-round interview by Steve Sands and imagine his first question is, "so Ernie, how did you feel in the moments before the doctor checked your oil?" . . . followed by, "and how about when he rolled your marbles?" (Els Interview).  It's "classic."  

Thank You Lehigh

My ten year old son has taken the bandwagon fan to a new level.  First it was the Colts after their Super Bowl win in January of 2007.  I could live with that because I was just happy that he liked sports and I also knew that the opportunity for an intervention was not far off as Peyton Manning couldn't play forever and the odds of the Colts seamlessly replacing him with a franchise quarterback were remote (shit).  Next came the Lakers and again I had no issue because, living in Baltimore, who was he supposed to root for?  The Wizards?  I wouldn't wish that on anybody (except the people of Washington of course).**

But about a year ago I started detecting something more insidious.  It was subtle at first, probably because he knew there would be repercussions and, when I finally confronted him about it, he was understandably cagey.
"As a matter of fact I am a Blue Devils
fan but I don't see how that's any
 of your business Mr. McMurphy."

Me: "Do you like Duke?"

The Traitor: "Well, they're not my favorite team but maybe a little."

Me: "Do you like them more than the Terps?"

The Traitor: "Well the Terps haven't be very good and . . ."

Me: "Just answer the question!"

That's about the time his mom intervened.  Fast forward to last Friday night.  All pretenses were gone by then as he had done everything but dye his hair blue and put a tent in the backyard with a sign out front that said "Welcome to Krzyzewskivile!"  To make matters worse, he had infected his eight year old brother so the battle lines had been drawn.  It was my two sons, Duke students and some of the players' parents vs me, my wife and everyone else on the planet who doesn't hate puppies.  (I say "some" of the players' parents because you know there are a couple who tell their kids, "I'm sorry.  I tried. I really did but I just can't do it").

We know how it played out.  Duke got into foul trouble which must have been a new and exciting experience for them.  (Apparently, the official scorer had to improvise on the fly and create a new column on the stat sheet for the infamous 4th foul that hasn't been called on a Blue Devil since Jim Spanarkel in 1978).   Once the refs came to their senses they tried to bail them out late with a garbage call on a three point shot but it wasn't enough.  When it was over, I tried to step out of the role of Duke hater and into the role of responsible parent but trying to console your son after a Duke loss is like trying to console a friend who contracted syphilis by sleeping with a Haitian prostitute (Bad Idea Jeans). Some lessons you have to just let your kids learn the hard way.       

Endnotes      

- "You'll be the first modern day
train robber Martin."
- "But I don't want to be a train robber!"
* Donald also won the 2011 Accenture Match Play Championship which is arguably a prestigious title, however, his path to the Final Four went through Charley Hoffman, Edoardo Molinari, Matteo Manassero and FGR favorite, Ryan Moore.  His one impressive victory was over Matt Kuchar in the semifinals.  He played Martin Kaymer in the championship match which would have been legit if not for the fact that Kaymer had unwittingly promised a designer to wear a ridiculous scarf for the match and, like Jerry Seinfeld wearing the pirate shirt on the Today show, it completely threw him off his game.                

** Ironically, the one home team he does stand by are the Orioles which is great because when we go to games we get to pretend we're the last people on Earth and run around an empty Camden Yards only there's actually a Major League Baseball game happening at the same time.  It's like Field of Dreams with a warehouse instead of a cornfield.