THAT NEXT WIN BY TIGER WOODS was bound to mean a lot to the maligned former world No. 1 golfer. Even if it did come in an 18-player event in early December. But could anyone imagine the steely Woods having champagne delivered to the media center?
In the words of legendary baseball play-by-play man Harry Caray, “Holy cow!”
Tony Lema, a talented tour pro who died at the age of 32 in a 1966 plane crash, became known as “Champagne Tony” after winning the 1964 British Open at St. Andrews. Lema’s surprising five-stroke win over runner-up Jack Nicklaus prompted a victory celebration that included sending champagne to the press. It was Lema’s first British Open appearance. With just nine holes of practice, Lema barely knew his way around the Old Course.
For at least one Sunday in Southern California, we witnessed Champagne Tiger. Unlike Lema, he knew his way around the course, Sherwood Country Club, where he had won a bunch of these Chevron (and other named) things. His dramatic birdie-birdie finish to disappoint Zach Johnson was certainly the Tiger-esque way to end the most talked about winless streak in the history of the world.
“It feels great,” Tiger said. “I know it’s been a while, but for some reason, it feels like it hasn’t, because coming down the stretch, I felt so comfortable.”
Those putts went in. And the champagne flowed.
−The Armchair Golfer
Monday, December 5
‘Champagne’ Tiger Woods
Labels: British Open , Chevron World Challenge , Harry Caray , Jack Nicklaus , Sherwood Country Club , St. Andrews , Tiger Woods , Tony Lema , Zach Johnson
Hi, I’m Neil Sagebiel, a writer and author who is here to swap stories and celebrate the game of golf. Thanks for joining me.