The majors yielded some unlikely or should I say interesting champions, so to speak. And it’s not a bad thing. I mean, God forbid, Tiger didn’t win his 15th to move one step closer to tying (and surpassing) Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 career major titles. Because he’s broken just about every other record and we can’t bear that it’s taking him, oh so long, to achieve the most-coveted of all. So, that’s not a bad thing either.
Since we have to wait 8 grueling months before the Masters, let’s take a look back at this year’s majors. I graded them with a 4-star rating with 1 being the lowest and 4, obviously, the highest.
The Masters: While the ending was rather anticlimactic, it was a thrilling Sunday at Augusta. Only two holes separated 48-year-old Kenny Perry from the Green Jacket, his first major title and becoming the oldest player in history to win one. It would have been one of the best Cinderella stories in golf’s history. Unfortunately his nerves caught up with him and he finished with consecutive bogeys, which landed him in a three way playoff with Angel Cabrera and Chad Campbell. By then, Perry had lost his momentum. In other words, he let the moment define him. So did Campbell. Cabrera just kept playing golf, one shot at a time. He was a fun winner, but Perry’s heartbreak overshadowed his victory. Just imagine had Campbell won — now that would have been a major travesty — if we’re talking in terms of snore alert. The whole Kenny Perry thing still eats at me. And because I’m a sap, I cried for him.
Rating: 2 stars
The US Open: I was at Bethpage Black 7 out of 8 days and had an absolutely amazing time. I felt like a little kid at the candy store. So, It really pains me to say it was the least climactic of the majors. Stormy weather forced delays and less than ideal playing conditions. Players, fans and volunteers alike stomped through the soggy, muddy and messy grounds at Bethpage Black. Here’s what we learned: Mother Nature wins every time. In my opinion, it was a fantastic tournament. Unfortunately it was dampened because the biggest story line was the weather.
Tiger Woods started the tournament poorly and never gained enough momentum to stage a real comeback. Phil Mickelson, the fan favorite (something I’ll never be able to understand, especially since NY fans are pretty savvy when it comes to sensing BS), was supposed to take the trophy home to his family. He had a shot, but pulled a Phil and came up short. Then, there was David Duval, who was resurrected after disappearing off the face of the leaderboard for nearly a decade. Instead, good ol’ Lucas Glover played 72 steady holes of golf and turned out to be the most uninteresting winner of the year.
I had no dire complaints because I was sitting in the 18th green grandstands. So, regardless, it was exciting. I even teared during the trophy presentation (again, I’m a sap). There’s something about the conclusion of major sporting events, where I imagine the emotions running through the champions — the shock, the adrenaline, the excitement — and just how incredible it must feel to have their hard work materialize.
But I digress. If you were watching on TV, I’m sure it was boring as hell.
Rating: 1 star
British Open: An eight foot putt stood between Tom Watson and the story of a lifetime. No one could believe the 59-year-old legend shot 65 in the first round. And no one thought he could hold the lead after 36 holes. When Sunday came along, he made us believe — before the final 18 began, we had basically written the fairy tale ending — the one where the good guy prevails over the bad guy and takes home the girl.
Instead, Stewart Cink drained a clutch putt on the 72nd hole and Watson missed one. Our hearts sank as we watched Watson collapse in the four hole playoff. Because we wanted our story (perhaps even more than Watson), Stewie was dubbed the villain who denied Watson the Claret Jug.
Even though we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, there’s no denying the British Open was the best major of the year; not to mention the most memorable I’ve seen in my lifetime. Oh, the agony, the tears, and the drama — Turnberry made for the perfect theater. That’s all I have to say…or I might start mourning the loss again. And last month I cried enough for Watson to last a lifetime.
Rating: 4 stars
The PGA Championship: Had it not been for the final 9 holes, this would have easily been the least interesting major. And had the rest of the field not showed up to play on Saturday, I might have fallen asleep amidst the telecast. So, let’s be thankful Tiger didn’t perform his usual final nine — or for that matter, weekend — heroics. Mostly, we have Y.E. Yang to thank for the mind-blowing 3-hybrid he hit into the 72nd hole — the shot that brought down Tiger and his perfect streak of winning when he held the lead after 36 and 54 holes. Don’t get me wrong, I was rooting for Tiger until around the 60th hole when I realized Yang actually had a damn good chance to win.
Now, we have the first Asian-born major champion and golf has been affirmed as a global sport. More important, we have proof Tiger is, in fact, human (a friendly reminder in case you haven’t heard it enough recently).
Rating: 3 stars
So there you have it. I cry a lot at post-majors — for the winners and the losers. In all seriousness, the year of the Bridesmaids was a good one. Well, unfortunately for the champions, the back stories and the runners-up upstaged their glory. Perhaps we never got the outcome we expected or wanted, but we still got compelling narratives. Not to mention, it’ll be even more exciting when Tiger wins the Masters next April. The anticipation is part of the game. And the chase keeps the game interesting.
How would you rate the majors?