Good Theater on the PGA Tour


The PGA Tour will never be the World Wrestling Federation, which isnt to say the PGA ever wanted to be the WWF.
But that doesnt mean the U.S. tour cant be good theater. In fact, the tour has been nothing but good theater, if not great golf, going back to early March.
Thats when Tiger and Phil squared off in a memorable final round one-on-one on Sunday at the Ford Championship at Doral. Woods won only when Mickelsons chip shot on the 72nd hole just missed.
The next week Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington and Joe Ogilvie hooked up in a playoff at the Honda Classic that produced Harringtons first victory in America.
That was followed by Singhs brave but star-crossed iron approach on the last hole at Bay Hill that wound up short and wet. Kenny Perry was the beneficiary of the wind gust that dunked Singhs shot. He was also the winner.
The weather dominated the next three events but Fred Funk captured a survival contest at The Players Championship; Mickelson won a war of attrition at the BellSouth Classic and Woods outlasted Chris DiMarco in a riveting duel at the Masters.
Darren Clarke and Peter Lonard limped home with 76 and 75, respectively Sunday at the MCI Heritage. Lonard hung on for the winners check when Clarke self-destructed late. Like I said, good theater doesnt always have to be great golf even though, in this case, it was a little like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
That brought us to the Shell Houston Open Sunday which, for the longest time, looked like it might be won by Gavin Coles or Greg Owen. Owen is an English journeyman who has a big head start on Rookie of the Year and once won something called the World Golf Sand Championship in the United Arab Emirates. Coles is a 54 Aussie, nicknamed The Angry Ant, who had never finished better than 50th in a PGA Tour event prior to Houston.
He came in tied for seventh. Owen shared fourth, his second top five this year.
But all of a sudden, very late in the game, you looked at the leaderboard and saw Singh and John Daly locked at the top at 13-under.
Folks, thats good theater.
Daly had birdied the last two holes of regulation to get there. Singh parred the first 13, remained patient and got the two birdies he needed on 14 and 15.
So here was Daly, having finished before Singh, puffing on a cigarette while most players would have been hitting balls, waiting for a potential playoff. And here was Singh, the newest, soon-to-inducted member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, calmly negotiating the right rough on the 72nd hole. The resulting par sent the event into overtime and the crowd into a feeding frenzy of delight.
More good theater.
Alas, Daly over-turned his 3-wood on the first playoff hole and it bounded into a water hazard. Singh negotiated another par. And, just like that, the Shell Houston Open was over.
It was Singhs 48th career victory when you count his 22 international wins along with his 26 tour victories. He has now won more than $40 million on our tour alone. Only Tiger has more.
The key to Singhs win was the fact that he finished in the top 10 in putts per round, driving accuracy and driving distance for the week. Do that on the PGA Tour these days, and its hard to lose.
Get Daly and Singh into a playoff on the PGA Tour these days'or Woods and Mickelson in the final group on Sunday'and its hard not to have enjoyed good theater somewhere along the line.
Golf is not wrestling. And shouldnt we be thankful for that. But it is, at some level, entertainment. And so far this year, the theater that entertainment has produced has been very, very good.
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