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Ramblings from the 19th Hole

by G. Rennie

This past Saturday I was tuned into the CBS coverage of the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. Stewart Cink was on a back side green, the 16th I think, when one of the commentators mentioned that Stewie hadn’t been in the winner’s circle for some time, going on three years, and that last win was the Open Championship in 2009.  A great achievement for Cink, for sure, was the win at Turnberry but it also was a huge disappointment for much, perhaps, most of the golfing world when he took down Tom Watson in a three hole playoff.

As Stewart stood over that putt, and then the next, and the next (he wound up with a four putt) it occurred to me that it might be a cosmic karmic payback if the Open Championship proved to be the last win in Cink’s professional career. I’m not wishing that on him but if it does play out that way, I’d chalk it up to a rebalancing of the golfing universe.

The induction ceremonies this Monday at the World Golf Hall of Fame produced a fair share of highlights most notably Peter Alliss’ hoisting of a single finger salute to a critic from his past. The fallout from that gesture shouldn’t obscure the quality of his speech which was filled with wit, expressions of gratitude, and rambling anecdote. This all reminded me of how much I always enjoyed his commentary and how the current crop of golf commentators working for CBS and NBC is absent anyone approaching his ability. Gary McCord is the only gent working for the networks who has the unforced flow and storytelling knack that were stock for Alliss.

 A lot has been written this week about that big Love In down in Houston that was part of the Insperity Champions Tour event. “The Greats of the Game” featured nine illustrious golfers now a bit past their playing prime who competed in a tournament within the tournament. The Greats played a scramble format in threesomes and, from the look of it, had a ball doing it. But their fun was matched, maybe exceeded by the record crowds who watched on the grounds as well as a vast TV audience. Billed as the likely last time the Big Three would ever play together, it was photo op time for everyone, including a legion of pro golfers from the Champions circuit who came out to view and cheer.

I enjoyed is as much as anyone – these three immortals of the game having fun on the course. That’s what struck me the most. That they truly loved the game and, in that respect, they weren’t any different than you, or me or any of the millions of hackers out there in love with the game. At one point Jack picked up a coin on the green used as a marker and casually tossed it to Gary who fumbled it, then picked it off the green. Just like my regular group, just like us.

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