One step forward, two steps back. This golf season has been a disaster.
Consider this week. The weather. Rory and Jordan on same side of draw. Not a single day with a standard schedule. A screwy penalty-stroke/non-penalty-stroke/who-has-any-idea-stroke.
The best thing about the winner is we can all stop pretending we are big DJ fans. Is he anybody’s favorite player? Here’s a guy who has all the charisma of Davis Love III — plus an unsavory history of drug abuse. Hey, I wanted the guy to win a major, too. After his US Open heartbreaks in 2010 and 2015, he deserved one. Just like Hillary Clinton deserves to be president. I wanted him to win a major; it just wasn’t necessary for it to be during my lifetime.
The best thing about DJ is his nonchalance. It’s refreshing to see a player refuse to let the golf media dictate how he acts. Of course, the golf media has expended a lot of energy insisting DJ has the defining physique for “golf’s new athletes.” Yeah? Well, that whole athlete thing didn’t exactly pan out, did it? You don’t hear so much about that any more.
Golf has had two forward steps this year. Jordan winning the (limited-field) opener, and Jason Day, Rory, and Jordan all coming into the same tournament off a win. There have been too many steps back to count.
Oakmont was a weather-destroyed nightmare. Which is a shame, because it’s a great course. Well, a beautiful course. This week’s setup? It’s a shame we have to see goofy-golf “false fronts” to make a course challenging. False fronts, false backs, false areas around sand traps. There’s nothing true about these course setups, and the biggest lie is the unspoken lie. I’ll say it: “Advances” in equipment have ruined the game. The only thing being advanced is the chance of some greedy golf division president shilling clubs all the way to a corner office in Manhattan.
This has not been a good year for golf. Which brings us around to the title of this article: Blame it on Rio. If there has ever been a more ridiculous case of the tail wagging the dog than Olympics golf, I don’t know what it is.
It’s a made-for-TV exhibition that makes the Battle at Bighorn look like Cherry Hills 1960. A non-event that means less than nothing. And let’s not kid ourselves about why Olympics golf came to be. NBC and Golf Channel thought “Tiger Woods At The Olympics” would be something they could hype to Mount Olympus. Imagine the commercials: Tiger Woods, American Flag, Tiger Woods, American Flag, Tiger Woods, American Flag. Then the panel circle jerks, “Don’t you think an Olympic gold medal is worth four majors? With that in mind, knowing that Jack never won a gold medal, it must be said that Woods is the sui generis Greatest Golfer Of All Time!”
And the target demo of the Olympics — you know, the LCD sports fans who lap up the human interest back stories (which get more airtime than the actual events) — would be susceptible to Woods/Gold Medal hype. Well, at least that was NBC’s thinking. I don’t believe even LCD sports fans would have taken that bogus bait.
One has to wonder if Tiger Woods, though, wanted any part of his blood being frozen and stored for analysis in the future. Medical technology in 2036 might find more than a little Galea and Biogenesis lurking in his blood cells.
So where do we go from here? Two weeks until Firestore, the worst course on the Tour. Then the British Open. Another two weeks, and then the PGA Championship. Then, thankfully, college football. Gluttons for punishment can consume two more months of golf with the Olympics, “playoffs,” and Ryder Cup. Sensible people, however, will look forward to 2017, with its real golf from Hawaii, the UAE, and the West Coast. People like to mock the B-list celebrities at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but Kevin James and Kenny G sound pretty damn good right now.
[I realize this morning that the big NBA game was played last night, and I still have no idea who won. Nor do I care. Total NBA minutes watched this season: 0. I wonder if there was truly high interest in the series or if it was just national sports radio’s Hype of the Week. Oh, well, if they hadn’t been pushing the NBA, they would have been going on about the NFL draft or telling listeners they “want to get your response” to whether player X’s “legacy” would be greater than player Y’s.
One thing we’ve learned from the golf media is that every player’s legacy dies within a couple of decades. In the NBA, for example, guys with two or three decent seasons are ranked higher than career-start-to-finish dominant winners like Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Then, of course, there is Tim Duncan, who would be the Greatest of All Time had he played in New York, but is all but forgotten in San Antonio. Oh, well. People who sit on hold for an hour to passionately weigh in about “Peyton Manning’s legacy” ain’t the shiniest silverware in the drawer.]