Sunday in Ohio was a day the PGA TOUR surely wishes had been left on the cutting room floor.
It was such a short time ago that we were all singing the praises of golf at its highest level because the Open Championship at Birkdale gave us Greg Norman, Padraig Harrington, a pinch of David Duval and more Rocco Mediate. It gave us a challenging and fixating backdrop of weather you wouldnt put your cat out in.
And we realized our game was safe even from the absence of Tiger Woods.
Sunday at the WGC-Bridgestone we realized that maybe it isnt.
The winner, Vijay Singh, limped to victory and showed once again that he cant be trusted with a putter in his hands no matter what its size or grip. Singh is NOT the favorite for this weeks PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.
Bridgestone also showed us that Phil Mickelson, who bogeyed three of his last four holes Sunday to drop into fourth place, isnt to be trusted with a driver in his hands down the stretch in the final round.
He, too, is NOT the favorite at Oakland Hills.
So who is?
The answer is
Thats right. There is not a clear-cut pre-championship favorite for the years final major.
Which, actually, will make for a pretty good story line.
Meanwhile, last week was one of those embarrassment-of-riches weeks in golf. Its that time of year when the schedule is chock full. Everywhere you wanted to look there were compelling angles.
Here was Michelle Wie tantalizing all her fans Thursday in Lake Tahoe with a first round, 1-over par 73 in the PGA TOUR event there. Unfortunately for the rapidly dwindling group of people who still believe she should be trying her luck on the mens side, Wie skied to a Friday 80 low-lighted by another quintuple-bogey 9 that matched the number she carded at the par-4 ninth at the U.S. Womens Open in late June.
There was Singh making a mile of putts Friday in Akron and finding himself in the last group Saturday at the WGC-Bridgestone with his old foe Mickelson.
Think Woods was watching that with interest from home back in Florida?
There was Annika Sorenstam having to hustle to make the cut at the Womens British Open at storied Sunningdale in England. Laura Diaz startled everybody with three eagles in her second round. And Lorena Ochoa, who would tie for seventh, struggled to regain the dominant momentum she had built early in the year when, after capturing the Kraft Nabisco, she had generated talk about a womens Grand Slam.
Finally, there was Fred Funk fighting off neck problems at the U.S. Senior Open where the most watched golfer was Norman. Norman had reminded us just last month that almost anything is possible when, with nine holes remaining Sunday, he led the Open Championship by a shot over eventual winner Harrington.
Norman didnt factor in the Sunday mix at the Broadmoor in Colorado, but wound up fourth. Funk was runner-up to winner Eduardo Romero.
As for Annika, well, she fired a final-round 68 and tied for 24th in what will probably be her last major championship for a long time. She is engaged to be married next year and starting a family, she says, is a high priority.
But Sorenstam left the big stage in style in England. She hit all 18 greens in her final round and she was a bigger story than the winner, Ji-Yai Shin, who had managed to keep it a pretty good secret that shes the No. 10 ranked player in the world.
I wish I had the hunger in me to stay motivated, Sorenstam said after her round. Because I can still play.
She birdied her last hole and called it my last putt.
Ive dedicated my life to golf, she added.
Quietly, Asian women won three of four majors in 2008.
And over in Tahoe another Hawaiian, Parker McLachlin, won on a Wie-less weekend.
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