Sunday, July 19
Tom Watson and Golf’s Tragic Consequences
“THIS AIN’T A FUNERAL, YOU KNOW,” Tom Watson quipped, sort of, in the interview room following his playoff loss to Stewart Cink at the British Open in Turnberry, Scotland.
Actually, it was.
No, no one died. Just one 59-year-old man’s improbable dream of a sixth Claret Jug, which would have tied him with the great Harry Vardon. Also dead: the hopes of who knows how many casual and serious golf fans who were pulling hard for the new Old Tom.
Cink is a fine player and deserving major winner. I like “Stewie.” A lot. And yet it was an unsatisfying result, wasn’t it?
Center of the green and two putts on the 72nd hole and Watson would send the scribblers on a mad search for words to put the whole affair into a suitable sports-history context. Alas, it turned into a funeral. The playoff was almost too painful to watch. I felt embarrassed for Tom. But he is a gallant man and true champion, and always carries himself as such.
So as I was mowing my lawn—I don’t usually mow on Sunday, but I didn’t know what to do after the unsettling conclusion to the Open—it occurred to me that golf is, in large part, a tragedy.
Every week 130 or so players tee off. Only one wins. Many players come agonizingly close to winning on their way to losing. Golf is ridiculously hard and often fickle, a real heart-breaker, a tragedy waiting to happen.
With all due respect to Stewart Cink, the year’s champion golfer, the 2009 British Open will be remembered as Old Tom’s Tragedy. His loss was my loss, and maybe yours, too. It sure felt like a funeral.
−The Armchair Golfer
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