For All the Wrong Reasons

By Randall MellJuly 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
Who have the golf gods put in charge of scripting this years major championships?
 
Franz Kafka?
 
The terminally depressed Czech writers affinity for hopelessness and absurdity makes him the leading suspect.
 
Apologies to Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover and Angel Cabrera, but the most compelling stories in all three of this years majors havent been the winners.
 
Theyve been the losers.
 
Tom Watson
Tom Watson left Turnberry with the silver medal, but still eyed the silver Claret Jug. (Getty Images)
Heartbreaks a part of every major, but not like this, not like this years run of agonizing endings.
 
Add Tom Watson to Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Kenny Perry on our list of fallen protagonists in the years emotionally exhausting majors.
 
Watsons British Open loss broke more than a players heart Sunday at Turnberry. It broke an entire nations heart. The Scots love him like one of their own.
 
That same devastating sense of shared loss pervaded the galleries at the Masters and U.S. Open.
 
The overwhelming sentimental favorites in every major so far this season have been led to the brink of something spectacular only to see their defeat cruelly magnified by their coming so fantastically close.
 
This is the year that might have been.
 
This might have been the major championship season for all time.
 
Imagine watching Perry exorcise his major championship demons with a par-par finish to win the Masters.
 
And Mickelson hoisting the silver U.S. Open trophy knowing he would deliver it to his ailing wife, Amy, in the hospital.
 
Or Duval hugging the trophies that mean most to him in life ' his wife, Susie, and their five children ' in a celebration at the 18th hole at Bethpage Black. Duval says he has found the meaning in life he was searching for in this family of his, and theyve given his game new meaning. Watching Duval engulfed by family after a victory would rank among the games most heartfelt images.
 
And imagine Watson clinging to a sixth Claret Jug, the greatest links player ever, drawing on something spiritual at 59 to become the oldest major championship winner by more than a decade.
 
Instead, many of us are left in the British Open aftermath feeling like weve been punched in the stomachs again.
 
Not since 1986, when Greg Norman led after 54 holes in all four majors and won just one of them (the British Open), has what might have been felt like it mattered so much.
 
It makes you wonder who the golf gods are targeting for punishment next with the PGA Championship just a month away.
 
Paul Azinger? John Daly? Colin Montgomerie? Ernie Els?
 
Theyre all qualified to play at Hazeltine. Theyd all be sentimental favorites should they get themselves in contention. It doesnt matter that all but Els feel like a long shot. Who would have picked Watson to come so close at the British Open?
 
If Kafka is writing the ending to the years final major, well remember this year as the Heartache Slam.
 
If theres injustice in all this, its not really in who lost.
 
Its in the unfairness to this years champions.
 
Cink was inspired at Turnberry, brilliant in the end, a wonderful breakthrough story if not for who he broke through to win.
 
Glover was terrifically steady and unshakably determined, exactly what the U.S. Open demands of its winner.
 
Cabrera, the son of a handyman who quit school in the sixth grade and became a caddie, added to his Argentine legend with his Masters triumph.
 
Cink, Glover and Cabrera all deserved to win. They were the best players when it mattered. They summoned greatness and seized their opportunities.
 
Pure and simple, they won their titles, but it doesnt diminish the sense of loss so many of us felt at the end of all three of this years majors.
 
Somewhere, Kafkas reveling in all of this. We can only hope hes run out of cosmic ink.
 
Email your thoughts to Randall Mell
 
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