Wild Wet Wacky Sunday


On the banks of the River Maigue in County Limerick in the shadow of the princely Adare Manor, an obscure, red-faced, tow-headed Englishman named Richard Finch slipped and fell into the water.
And just like that, in the world of golf Sunday, he was simultaneously famous, infamous and notorious.
Moments later he was the 2008 champion of the Irish Open. That was because he had built a 3-shot lead by the time he reached a diabolical 18th hole that only a leprechaun could love.
It wasnt that cold, Finch said afterward, sounding for the world like the British schoolboy he once was. And I was a good swimmer in my youth.
You see the ball he had swung at before plunging sidelong into the Maigue, on his follow-through, wound up on the green. Three putts later he was a winner.
Richard Finch is well-known now. He has won twice on the European Tour in seven months. And if Nick Faldos Ryder Cup team was named tomorrow, he would just miss gaining an automatic berth.
Kenny Perry could only wish he had been so immersed in good fortune. The 47-year-old Kentuckian, who is desperate for a berth on the U.S. Ryder Cup team in September in large measure because they will be playing the matches in his home state, stayed dry Sunday in Georgia. But his golf ball got wet.
This, too, happened on the last hole. The event was the AT&T Classic. And Perry was engaged in a playoff with Ryuji Imada. He had a fairway wood in his hand and a long, downhill shot on the par-5 finisher at the TPC Sugarloaf.
The safe miss there is a bailout right. And thats where Perrys shot was going until it had a head-on collision with the lone tree back and right of the green. The result was a wild ricochet that sent his ball scurrying across the green and towards the water fronting the putting surface.
Where is it? Perry asked his caddie when he heard the groans from all the corporate tents.
Minutes later Imadas safely played par trumped Perrys disappointing bogey. And Perry, the 54-hole leader at last weeks PLAYERS before a Sunday 81 ruined that championship for him, was left trying to remember how to forget.
Any golf shrink worth his weight in Zen would remind Perry he has won twice at Colonial where the TOUR convenes this coming week; and that he has won once at Jack Nicklaus Memorial which takes place the week after that.
And any golfer worth his weight in self-abnegation will tell you trying to unpack the psychic baggage of a fortnight of undelivered promise is easier said than done.
Lorena Ochoa, meanwhile, had caught a nasty dose of reality last week in Virginia, where Annika Sorenstam stopped her inexorable march to dominance on the LPGA Tour that hadnt seen anything like it since, well, Sorenstam won 11 times in 2002.
Ochoa was protecting a one-shot lead when she reached the final hole of the Sybase Classic when her drive settled near the trees in the right rough. She found the proverbial window in the log cabin with her punch-out second and escaped with a par 5 that preserved a victory over runner-up Morgan Pressel.
It was Ochoas sixth victory of the year. And it exacted at least a temporary measure of revenge from Sorenstam who wound tied for 11th.
I love the feeling of adrenaline and just trying to be good and be smart and win at the end, Ochoa said.
Once again it had been all about drama and adrenaline on the final hole in a week of golf around the world that had everything but Tiger Woods. And Ochoa, unlike Finch and Perry, had managed to keep herself and her golf ball on dry land on a wild Sunday.
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