Todd Hartley: Get up for the down strokes at the PGA
August 23, 2002
I’ve been feeling a little scatterbrained lately, and the best I could do for this week’s column was to compile a random assortment of thoughts from last weekend’s PGA Championship. I beg your forgiveness, as well as your indulgence, as I sweep out the cobwebs of my mind just a smidgen. With luck I’ll be in top form again next week. Thank you.
? As a rule, I have my suspicions about people who would choose to live in places like El Paso, Texas, the home of new PGA champion Rich Beem. But it’s hard not to like a fellow who needs only a bogey to win on the ultimate hole of a major tournament and nevertheless pulls out his driver and crushes the ball.
Tactics that bold can often lead to Van de Veldian consequences and things like triple bogeys, but Beem kept his cool, put his drive in the fairway and was able to three-putt for the victory. If it wasn’t for his frosted hair and Lone Star lineage, I could almost root for the guy.
However, regarding Beem’s tale of woe about giving up the game and selling cell phones for a living: He’s only 32, so he didn’t give up golf for long. And if working retail in Seattle is his definition of rock bottom, I don’t really feel sorry for him.
? Isn’t the PGA the coolest major? Sure, it’s the one you’d least like to win if given the choice, but it’s the only one you might realistically have a chance of winning with a little practice. The Masters and U.S. and British opens go to guys like Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. The PGA is the major won by guys like Rich Beem and Mark Brooks and Wayne Grady. And it always seems to make for great drama and riveting TV viewing (well, as riveting as golf gets, anyway).
This year Beem held off a late charge from Woods, who had to battle unheralded Bob May down to the wire to win in 2000. Last year, David Toms made a brilliant up-and-down after a layup to keep Phil Mickelson winless in the majors. And that by itself should give you hope, because Toms is not exactly cut from the same thread as Woods and Els, as I’m about to point out.
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? I’ve never seen anyone look more uncomfortable than Toms did during the first two rounds of the tournament. Despite being the defending PGA champion, Toms was a forgotten man. He was playing in the same threesome as Woods and Els, and the comparison with the other two reigning major champions found Toms severely lacking.
Woods is Woods, bigger than life and much better than you. Els is a giant. Both are very charismatic athletes. Together, they drew every cheer from the monster galleries that followed them around the course, while no one spoke a word in support of Toms. Next to two of golf’s biggest stars, Toms looked like a hydrocephalic midget with the flu who was about to burst into tears. He also played really lousy golf, which didn’t help.
? I must preface this next comment by admitting I’ve never been to Minnesota, so I could be totally wrong. That being said, it’s a further indication to me of the outright whiteness of Midwesterners that not once during the tournament did any of the loudmouths in the gallery make the connection between Fred Funk and the band Parliament.
Funk, as likable a player as there is on tour, played fantastic golf; and over and over again morons would shout out, “Funk yeah!” after his shots as if it were the most hysterical thing ever. Parliament used the word “funk” repeatedly in every song they ever recorded. From one song alone the fans at Hazeltine could have hollered, “We want the funk,” “Give up the funk” and “Gotta have that funk” ? but no, the nimrods just kept yelling, “Funk yeah!”
Anyway, that’s it for this week. I’ll try my best to have some sort of theme for you next Friday, but I can’t promise anything. You see, I’ve got to get out to the golf course and work on my game a little bit. I’ve got to win myself a PGA Championship. I figure if a hydrocephalic midget can win one, why can’t I?
[Todd “Sir Nose d’Voidofunk” Hartley turns this mother out every Friday in The Aspen Times. E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org ]
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