The Conundrum that is Calcavecchia

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So I'm sitting here wondering what to make of Mark Calcavecchia. Because in the past, I haven't made much, frankly.
 
Let's see . he's a big bowler, a great guy to be around. He set off an uproar with square grooves back in 1987 when he smacked an 8-iron out of the rough to near the pin in the Honda Classic. He played superbly in winning a playoff in the '89 British Open over Greg Norman and Wayne Grady. In the Ryder Cup of 1991, he blew a four-hole lead with four to play to Colin Montgomerie, one of the most astounding defeats in history. But that's about the sum total of it, as far as eye-popping headlines are concerned. He seems to go about his business quietly - quietly but effectively.
 
He has always been a money machine, not finishing out of the top 60 for 16 years now. Let's see, in 13 of the past 16 years he has finished inside the top 30. But he hasn't had what you would call an 'outstanding' career. His 10 wins have been liberally sprinkled around the 18 years. He's 40 years old now, seems pretty normal if he lived down the street from you. Just a nice guy, a little too zany to really take seriously, but far too talented to consign to the journeyman heap.
 
Anyway - what do you think this nice chap did over the weekend? He set a PGA Tour scoring record at the Phoenix Open. He tied the record against par. He tore up the course like it was set up for a pro-am. But this wasn't the Hope or Disney or Las Vegas - any of the courses which are set up especially easy to move around the amateur gents. And nowhere has anyone ever done what Calcavecchia did.
 
It was Calc's third time to win Phoenix, and he has a home in the Phoenix area. Twice he has won Honda, and he also has a residence in West Palm Beach, less than 50 miles from that site. Half his victories have been 'homeboy opens.' That must say something about Calcavecchia - there's nothing like a high comfort level to get a win or two.
 
But this win was truly something special. Rocco Mediate was in second place, eight shots back. Eight shots! It was a win more reminiscent of Mister Eldrick T. Woods - who, incidentally, finished at 13 under, beaten by Calcavecchia by a whopping 15 shots. And the weather indeed was dreadful - wind and rain and freezing temperatures. In short, nothing you would find at a record-setting tournament. It was a bona fide record shot at a big-time course under trying conditions.
 
So is this a renaissance by him, a new birth to the career at the age of 40?
 
Well, he finished in the top 10 nine times last year. Maybe you can look in there for a clue. Maybe it's just as he says - 'I'm starting to use my experience a little bit' - and you stifle the urge to shout, 'It's bloody well about time!' But the man has been making an exceptional living for all concerned and that's really all that needs to be said.
 
However, if Calc truly has this kind of ability, it would be nice to see it a tad more often. He seems a bit of a graybeard to start something big, but this may be the start of something here. Will he win three times this season? Five? Nine, for goodness sakes - Tiger numbers?
 
If we are to gather from his recent remarks, he certainly has become acquainted with his golf swing. He recounted a conversation he had on the phone with swing instructor Butch Harmon:
 
'I told him I was hitting it in both directions. I kind of had the flip-hooks going and was kind of toeing everything, and he said, 'your right knee is probably straightening up and you're probably over swinging. So try to turn against your right knee.'
 
'And another thing, my backswing was getting me. I was kind of winging it back inside and long and I was tilting, and that's when I was throwing it, and that's why my divots were toe-steep and I was hitting it left. So he said, 'just turn against your right knee and don't let the club get behind you and shorten your backswing.' That was all it took.'
 
Huh?
 
Ankles and wrists and hands and feet. Let's leave the mechanical stuff to him. Let's just hope one thing is for certain - he simply tries his best every time out. He plays a practice round Monday at Cypress Point with someone who does - Woods. If he does that, he certainly hasn't won for the final time.