Musings on a Monday morning with no frost on the pumpkin…
Yes, now that you mention it, Tiger Woods’ day at the East Lake Golf Club was a gripping, compelling bit of business.
The golf itself was substandard. After a birdie on No. 1 to basically seal the deal and deny the occasion of any leaderboard drama, Woods finished with a very pedestrian one-above par 71, good enough for a two-swing victory over an elite yet restricted Tour Championship field of 30 golfers, the majority of whom declined to provide any pushback and melted under his still-mighty sway.
You know, just like the old days, when Woods would show up wearing a red shirt on Sunday and everyone else played for second-place green.
This was different simply because we knew the back story and wondered if the old fella had another win in him.
Woods already had been there and done that 79 times on the Professional Golf Association Tour by the time he and his raunchy, swarming mob arrived at the 18th green at East Lake GC, but not since 2013. His life had become a mish-mash of back surgeries, front-page scandal, and fodder for every late-night, talk-TV comic looking for a cheap laugh. His golf game was non-existent.
The doubters (guilty as charged) expected him to crumble on Sunday. Instead it was Rory McIlroy who buckled. And Justin Rose who flailed.
Woods was back in the victor’s circle, and the scene at the 18th was astonishing. It was a magical sporting moment.
The talking heads on NBC tripped over each other searching for superlatives to define the moment. Historic was an oft-heard word, even though there was nothing historic about the occasion. An 80th PGA win is a milestone, to be sure, but Sam Snead had 82, so history is found on Slammin’ Sammy’s scorecard.
After the fact, wordsmith’s attempted to catalog Woods’ success, and it has been an exercise in excess for some. Examples:
Jay Busbee of Yahoo Sports: “So let’s go ahead and call this what it is: the greatest comeback in sports history.”
(I don’t know. Being stabbed between the shoulder blades with a nine-inch boning knife during a tennis match, disappearing for two years and living in absolute fear, then returning to win a Grand Slam title might trump it.)
Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail: “If he can close the circle and win a fifth Masters, it would be a bigger deal than the first time around. It might be the biggest thing ever.”
(Yes, that moon landing thing in 1969 can’t possibly compare to winning a golf tournament.)
John Ziegler of Mediaite: “This wasn’t just a win for golf, but for humanity, both of which are in dire need of victories. For if a person, fueled by nothing but pure pride and a desire to show his kids that their dad really was once something really special, can defeat all of his mental and physical demons to come all the way back from the depths from which Woods has emerged, there really might be hope of the rest of us dregs of humanity.”
(We’re dregs because we can’t win a golf tournament? Oh, the humanity!)
If I might be allowed to apply a coating of perspective to Woods winning the Tour Championship, it was one man’s triumph over health issues and personal demons. His stick-to-itness is admirable. Many of his wounds—the ones you cannot repair with a band-aid—were self-inflicted, and that’s what made his Sunday story so compelling. It grabbed us because we can relate to human frailties. We’ve all been there and done that. And it’s comforting to see someone come out the other side in one piece. It does not, however, change the world as we know it.
Okay, enough of Tiger Woods. Kudos to Jeff Hamilton of the Winnipeg Free Press for telling it like it is about Johnny Manziel. Hamilton writes this of the Montreal Alouettes quarterback:
“It doesn’t help that Manziel needs to resurrect his football career behind such a leaky offensive line, but it’s the same group that Antonio Pipken (sic) had when he combined for 545 passing yards in wins over Toronto and Ottawa. In fact, if Manziel was anybody else, there’s a good chance he’d be out of a job by now.”
Spot on. And the numbers support Hamilton’s analysis.
Four QBs thrust into the No. 1 role for the first time this Canadian Football League season have started three or more games—Manziel, Pipkin, Chris Streveler and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Only one of them has yet to toss a touchdown pass. Manziel. Only one of them has yet to win a game. Manziel. Only one of them has yet to total 500 yards in passing. Manziel. Here are the comparison of the QBs after their first three starts:
Now, if only the gab guys in TSN’s Cult of Johnny would clue in and realize how shameful their doting on Johnny Rotten, a very ordinary QB, has been.
Three terrifically entertaining skirmishes in the CFL on Saturday, and the head counts at two of them were dreadful—14,479 for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Argonauts in the Republic of Tranna, and 18,794 for double-OT doozy between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and B.C. Lions in Lotus Land. I live on the West Coast. I hear very little chatter about the Leos or the CFL, but plenty about the National Football League. And I don’t get it. Give me a three-down game over four-down football any day.
Did head coach June Jones cost the Tiger-Cats a win in B.C. when he chose to punt the football rather than attempt a 45-yard field goal in the final minute? Absolutely.
The CFL West Division team that earns the crossover playoff spot will have to beat both the Ticats and Bytown RedBlacks on the road in eight days. Good luck with that. Ain’t going to happen.
Here are this week’s CFL power rankings…
1. Calgary (10-2): Bye week, no harm done.
2. Saskatchewan (8-5): Offence showed some signs of life.
3. Ottawa (8-5): Jekyll and Hyde of the CFL.
4. Edmonton (7-6): Oh woe is the D.
5. Hamilton (6-7): Dumb coaching did them in.
6. B.C. (6-6): Thought they were done a month ago.
7. Winnipeg (6-7): Awaiting word on key injuries.
8. Toronto (3-9): No one cares in TO, so why should we?
9. Montreal (3-10): Awful in both official languages.
And, finally, if you’re looking for a good yarn, check out Dave Feschuk’s piece on former National Hockey League/World Hockey Association goaltender Al Smith in the Toronto Star. It’s excellent.