Quite a Time This Is

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So much going on in golf this year. So much going on this week.
 
You've got people of varying political persuasions trying to get permits to protest against the Masters in Georgia in a month. And forget who's right and who's wrong for just a minute. Can I just lament the loss of innocence here? The Masters was always a timeless work of sporting art that made people feel good about the purity of the game of golf.
 
I don't mean to be sticking my head in the sand here. I Just wish this all could have played out differently.
 
You've got a woman--Annika Sorenstam--playing in the Bank of America Colonial in May and because of it, a lot of men have their undies in a bunch. I understand the reasons for dispute at Augusta. But the objections to Sorenstam trotting her game out against the best men are confusing. I'm for the pursuit of excellence and am against the concept of exclusion. I will root for Annika in Fort Worth and I will worry. If she plays poorly for two rounds and misses the cut, the din from narrow-minded I-Told-You-Sos who don't know the game will be extra loud.
 
You've got a man threatening to play in the U.S. Women's Open. My opinion here: Brian Kontak is ill-advised. But I will defend with my life his right to fight for what he believes.
 
Speaking of beliefs, I have always believed that David Duval was misunderstood. Now I believe he is tortured. Wouldn't you be if your occupation was golf and you had just learned you are suffering from vertigo? This is a malady that makes you feel like the world is spinning around your head. It challenges your physical sense of balance. Isn't the golf swing, when reduced to its simplicities, all about accelerating to finish on balance? David Duval without balance is like Mozart without hearing or Barry Bonds without sight or Emeril without a sense of smell.
 
This is a terrifying prospect for a player who is candid, sometimes to a fault. The good news is that, in most cases, vertigo goes away. The hope here is that it goes away for David Duval as quickly as possible.
 
Candor is also what Scott Hoch has been all about for a long time. I don't always agree with what he says. But I always want to hear what he's saying. Hoch won the continuation of a playoff with Jim Furyk Monday at Doral. During a Sunday night press conference Furyk said he, too, respected Hoch's independence even though, he added, 'Sometimes you want to put a sock in it,' referring to Hoch's mouth.
 
Not long ago Tiger Woods categorized Phil Mickelson as being something of a 'smart aleck' on occasion. But Phil doesn't 'put a sock in it' either. Strength or weakness? Time will tell.
 
Finally there is Qatar. The Euro Tour insists all is secure for their tournament there this week even, though the golf course is just 700 miles from downtown Baghdad in a week that could well usher in full-scale U.S. military action against Iraq. I wonder if the fact that the U.S. has a large armed presence near Qatar means that the players will be safe there or Qatar will be a target. I'm not smart enough to know the answer.
 
So much going on in golf this year. So much going on this week.