Golf As We Used to Know It


Hmmmm..Do we smell a trend?
Two Sundays ago at the Open Championship Tiger Woods, playing his second shots from where Corey Pavins tee balls normally land, won that championship at Hoylake in clinical fashion.
One week later Corey Pavin, playing his second shots from where Corey Pavins tee balls normally land, won the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.
Pavin, ranked 194th and dead last in driving distance on the PGA TOUR, is 46 years old. He hadnt won on the PGA Tour in 10 years. He won his only major, the U.S. Open 11 years ago. He won in Milwaukee 20 years ago.
He was supposed to be obsolete. A period piece. Instead he provided an exclamation point that replaced the question mark to the query: What ever happened to the long bombers?
For that matter Loren Roberts, Pavins co-assistant captain for the upcoming Ryder Cup matches, won the Senior British in Scotland Sunday. Roberts will never be called Bubba. Not Watson. Or even Dickerson.
Roberts is not especially long off the tee either. But he just won a major in a playoff with long-hitting Argentine Eduardo Romero.
So just what in the name of persimmon and balata and tempered steel is going on here?
Not sure I know the answer. And I am definitely sure that Pavin will not be favored at monster-long Medinah for the PGA Championship in two and a half weeks. But what I am sure is that I will never tire of watching shotmakers and pure putters.
Woods, Pavin and Roberts gave us a megadose of both the last two weeks. Pavin hit just three of 13 fairways at Milwaukees Brown Deer Park Thursday and still carded a 9-under 61 that included an eye-popping 26 on the par 34 front nine.
It was Pavins 15th PGA TOUR win and, perhaps, his sweetest. He made $720,000 for winning. Compare that to the $270,000 he took home for capturing the Colonial in 1996 or the $72,000 he pocket-changed for his Milwaukee victory in 1986, and its easy to understand why one of golfs best shotmakers is smiling again.
In the early '90s Pavin and Fred Couples were the two best Americans. Couples won two Player of the Year titles and Pavin led the money list in 1991.
Ten years later the aerodynamics of the golf ball changed to the extent that many experts said you couldnt curve the ball as much as before. Pavins whole game with the full swing had revolved around shaping the ball and varying trajectories.
He was a kind of magician. Sunday in Milwaukee it was nice to see the magic return.
I will be surprised if this two-week trend to artistry has legs in this era of bombers and gougers. But I would love to be wrong.
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