It was good theater if not good golf. Well, it was OK theater. And, well, it was OK golf.
There were more lead changes on the final day of the MCI Heritage than the road show of My Fair Lady.
On his web site, Lonard lists his favorite food as 'barbecued.' Not 'barbecue,' but 'barbecued.' In other words, just about anything as long as its barbecued. Lonard is an unprepossessing bloke who, after Saturday's round, said he planned to eat the same food and drink the same amount of beers he had been drinking all week long.
Rest assured that he probably swilled a few extra ones Sunday night.
For his part, runner up Darren Clarke had to be feeling a little barbecued himself after birdieing the first three holes to take a four-shot lead and closing with a bloated 40 on the final nine holes to drop all the way back into a four-way tie for second with Davis Love III, Billy Andrade and Jim Furyk.
'At the end of the day,' Lonard said, 'if you win, you win.'
Clarke, the 17th-ranked player in the world, had opened this event with a pair of stylish 65s that provided him with a six-shot lead after 36 holes. In his final 36 holes Clarke carded 10 bogeys, three double bogeys, 13 pars and nine birdies.
The headline writers were already working overtime.....'Jilton Head,'.........Calidoublebogue Sound.....etc. etc.....You get the idea.
'I feel like about a 36-handicap,' said Clarke, who was 6-over par on the last six holes.
So heres the deal: Peter Lonard stumbled to a 75 Sunday. But guess what? His 72-hole total of 7-under par was lower than anybody elses. By two shots. He will not be handing back his check of almost $1 million dollars anytime soon. He will not be asking the PGA Tour to take back the two-year exemption any time soon either. Hell probably even keep the plaid jacket.
For his part, Clarkes world didnt end Sunday either. His swing deserted him, yes. But that happens. Moe Norman, the Canadian golf legend, used to say only two people who ever owned their golf swings: Him and Hogan. Clarke has a ton of game and a terrific instructor in Butch Harmon, maybe the best in golf. Harmon will get him back on track sooner than later.
You just dont get Woods vs. DiMarco every week. For that matter, I know golf grinches who werent even thrilled with Woods vs. DiMarco. Lots of contenders, they say, is what they want on the back nine on Sunday at the Masters. Lots of shots full of meaning for CBS producer Lance Barrow to show in rapid fire succession. Two players only in contention, they say, is not enough.
The real winner in South Carolina Sunday was Harbour Town Golf Links, Pete Dyes devlish little track that seems to get tougher and more interesting every year. Listed in the PGA Tour media guide at less than 7,000 yards, it gives the worlds best all they want. Would love to see the USGA take a U.S. Open there some June. Let it play hard and fast. Let the wind blow. Throw rakes into the waste areas so the pros cant ground their clubs on the coquina shells. Let even par win our national championship.
Am probably just dreaming. But Peter Lonard was dreaming, too, more than 10 years ago when something called Ross River Fever raged through his body and forced him off the Australian Tour and back to a club job. All of a sudden I was selling Mars bars and sausage roles in the pro shop, he said.
Lonard kept after it. Slowly, he got his health back. And Sunday he won for the first time on the worlds most lucrative golf tour.
Heres to him. Fosters Lager, barbecued and a Mars bars for everyone.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt