All Roads Lead to Vegas

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Hooks and Cuts on Golfs Winding Trail, Part Three
 
Editor's Note: This is the final installment of a three-part Lerner's Journal, as Rich recounts his recent road trip covering the Masters, the Hootie & the Blowfish tournament and the LPGA in Las Vegas.
  • Part One, 'The King and His Scribes'
  • Part Two, 'A Cruel and Beautiful Game'
     
    Monday after the Masters found me back in Myrtle Beach, where Id started the journey eight days prior at the GWAA banquet.
     
    I was a bit groggy. After finishing our work at Augusta at nearly midnight Sunday, Kelly Tilghman and I drove 3 1/2 hours to her hometown of North Myrtle Beach.
     
    By mid-morning we were about to embark on a much different assignment'the annual Hootie and The Blowfish Celebrity Pro-Am, which will air as a one-hour special May 12th on The Golf Channel.
     
    Former Baltimore Raven lineman Tony Siragusa played, swinging the club, according to an amateur whod seen him, like a caveman killing his dinner.
     
    Super Bowl bad boy Jim McMahon couldnt think of a reason not to relieve himself just off the 13th hole. Someone suggested it be roped off as casual water. Looked more like a case of rub and tug of the green.
     
    John Daly entertained as usual. Before a sizable gallery on the first tee, he smashed his ball off the top of a coke can about 320 yards. He wore untied shoes, Bermuda shorts and an un-tucked shirt. John says in his home state of Arkansas that qualifies as a three piece suit.
     
    The day rolled like this for hours, the soothing sun and loose atmosphere the perfect way to begin to restore my tired mind and body.
     
    Then I hopped the 7:20 out of Myrtle Beach that night to Atlanta, and then another bird to take me to another kind of madness.
     
    Las Vegas.
     
    Talk about the powers of rejuvenation. What time was it anyway? Not far from sun up in the East, but Vegas loans you those three hours. I was more than happy to take em back, along with some hope and a little more cash than I usually withdraw from the ATM.
     
    Gambling at one time in my life held some excitement, back in college when Atlantic City was rising and wed make the trip from Philadelphia. But I dont have the patience for it any more.
     
    Either you have to commit to sitting for the long haul, diligently playing the percentages, hoping to outlast the house. Or, you have to throw caution to the wind and take a few chances, stepping up the bet, trying to hit a home run.
     
    As I said, I dont have the patience and most of the dealers I ran into in the brief 90 minutes I sat at the blackjack jack table at the Bellagio werent of the mind to give up any home runs to big swinging players. Matter of fact, they were a bit like Roger Clemens in that respect - hard to hit.
     
    Easier to read would be the LPGA Takefuji Classic, the reason my ticket said Las Vegas.
     
    The LPGA Tours getting better pub these days. Annikas been on Leno, The Today Show, 60 Minutes. Sports Illustrated even likes the buzz surrounding the circuit.
     
    But long term, after Annikas Colonial experiment is past, theyll need to keep the momentum alive.
     
    Most observers agree that the tour would get a giant boost if a young American could step forward in a significant and consistent manner. Laura Diaz has shown flashes, but shes not yet elite. Hopefuls like Natalie Gulbis and Beth Bauer are promising and look the part, but they havent even won yet.
     
    All the while, the Asians continue to assert themselves. Their names are everywhere in a single days telecast of an LPGA event. Their junior golf programs deliver, and the players on the whole are highly skilled, focused and determined.
     
    What they generally are not is overly emotional or outwardly ebullient. The language barrier makes interviews somewhat difficult. So ultimately, those two factors conspire, on occasion, to overshadow the brilliant golf. This is a form of television entertainment, after all.
     
    This is not in any way to be construed as a knock against the Asian players. This is not their issue. This is simply to say that this is the current state of affairs. This is to say that the powers that be at the tour would dearly love to see a fresh American player with the personality to match the game.
     
    I seem to recall it happened 25 years ago. Remember Nancy?
     
    Finally, the week at an end, Id begin my journey back to real life with simple goals. The first was to give up those three hours Id found on the way out.
     
    One way or the other, you always pay in Vegas.