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Els, Daly, Woods deserve Wannabes
TULSA, Okla. — Since Tiger Woods has all but stashed the Wanamaker Trophy in his trunk, it’s time to handout some Wannabe hardware for other notable accomplishments at this week’s 89th PGA Championship.
c Ernie Els gets a Wannabe for the quote of the week. Asked whether he thought the tournament was over, given Tiger’s 12-for-12 perfection as a major front-runner, the congenial South African (1-under 209) explained that he couldn’t say that as a competitor, however …
“If I was a fan on the couch, I’d be putting my house on him, yeah.”
Now three strokes isn’t an insurmountable lead in and of itself. But not only has Woods (7-under 203) never blown one after 54 holes at a major, he has increased his margin in nine of his 12 Slam victories. That lead looks even more lopsided, considering three guys directly beneath him — Stephen Ames (206), Woody Austin (207) and John Senden (208) — boast the same number of combined major victories as John Q. Shank. Then again, given that Tiger’s most recent major dogfights have come from Bob May (2000 PGA), Rich Beem (2002 PGA), Chris DiMarco (2005 Masters) and Zach Johnson (2007 Masters), perhaps today’s three stooges have a chance.
c Edging John Daly and Geoff Ogilvy, Austin gets the nod as worst dressed. That Southwest landscape splatter of a shirt he inflicted on the world yesterday was sartorially toxic. Tabasco might be hot, but their shirts are fashion frigid. Memo to Ogilvy: purple and white polka-dotted hexagons? Clean it up, or you will be banished to the ATP.
c In the miracle category, Daly (213) gets a Wannabe for staying vertical for three straight days at what is going to end up being the hottest major in history … without drinking a drop of water … while posting just one double-bogey. Long John is just four hours, two packs of Marlboro Mediums and a dozen Diet Cokes from surviving Southern Hills.
c Dual winners emerged in the dolt-of-the-week department. Boo Weekley (210) gets a share for screwing up Sergio Garcia’s scorecard yesterday and for generally being ignorant of, well, pretty much everything other than the redneck holy trinity of NASCAR, casting and killing. But the only thing at Southern Hills dimmer than Weekley was the guy who trusted him to get his scores right. Garcia, who would be at 220, was probably more than happy to forgo his final day in glorious Tulsa, but don’t you think he would maybe look over his scorecard extra carefully when Weekley is keeping it? In a shocker, Weekley admitted afterward that he had “never been too good at math.”
c Scott Verplank (210) earns a Wannabe for mystifyingly figuring out how to shoot even par on a diabolical track with the lowest, shortest, skankiest, cut-quail ball flight on the planet. If you think Jim Furyk’s swing is unconventional, you should spend some time watching Verplank hit drivers. The ball starts 50 yards left of his intended line and wouldn’t clear a garden gnome at 50 paces. Not only can you not find pros who hit it like that, you can’t find any folks anywhere who hit it like that, because they’ve all quit the game. In fact, Verplank’s caddie, Bob Tway’s brother Scott, deserves a Wannabe too just for watching that atrocity thousands of times every year.
c CBS gets some love for its super slow-mo cam, which is unquestionably the highlight of their broadcast. Watching Tiger’s shaft bow as he extracted a ball from the depths of Southern Hills’ matted Bermuda rough at the beginning of yesterday’s telecast was truly amazing.
c Finally, Tiger’s driver gets a Wannabe for staying in the bag this week. Perhaps conventional wisdom was dead wrong when it came to pegging the best and worst suited courses for Tiger’s game. Sure, when Tiger’s hitting his driver extremely well, his length off the tee is a major asset. But it’s also the one club in his bag that has notoriously gotten him into the most trouble. For instance, measuring Woods against Nicklaus, Tiger would have the edge with every other club in the bag except the driver. But Jack was worlds better with the big stick.
Perhaps, it’s just as well if Tiger leaves the shillelagh at home. Barring a surprise stumble today, two of his last three major wins (also at 2006 British Open) will have come in bunt-bunt fashion, as he plotted his way around Hoylake and now Southern Hills taking irons off nearly every tee.
“I think the way he played at Hoylake, he’s learned a lot for himself there,” Els said. “He’s definitely figured out these shorter, twistier courses.”
The one thing nobody has ever figured out is how to catch Woods on a Slam Sunday.
By Brahma Chellaney
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