For the record, I used to present the Ferrets every year on the CBS late-night highlights show from Firestone.
Ernie Els won the Golden Ferret in our fourth year, and in a memorable bedtime scene that we shot in his hotel room, the great South African cuddled up with the varmint on one side and the Open Championship trophy on the other, and uttered the immortal, "Good night, Claret ... Good night, ferret," before he turned out the light. It was TV magic, and it was cancelled.
This time, however, it's going to stick! (Or at least that's what the idiots at this magazine tell me.) For the sake of history, reality, and social anthropology, I divvied up some of the awards into two categories: one for able-bodied homo erecti, and the other for the currently crippled, non-carbon-based life form known as T. Woods.
PLAYER OF THE
Alien Division: T. (Win One for the Gimper) Woods.
Homo Erectile Division: Padraig Harrington. Goes without saying, he's won three of the last six majors, almost in alien style. He was a thoroughbred Irish stallion coming down the final stretch. Big Green, if you like.
Honorable mention (Resident Alien Division): Me. I didn't make a bogey all year. Never hit a shot, either.
The Player of the Year Ferret (Under 25): If we're talking age, Anthony Kim, no contest. If it's a sperm count, Gary McCord.
The Player of the Year Ferret (Over 40): Again, if we're talking age, uh...let me think...Vijay Singh. If it's an IQ score, he doesn't qualify.
COMEBACK OF THE
Alien Division: Technically speaking, you have to have been away to come back, but once again, T. (Hoppy) Woods.
Homo Erectile Division (Three-way tie): Dudley Hart, who because of his wife Suzanne's lung tumor, had to take months off to look after his triplets and needed to win about $500,000 just to keep his card. He did a whole lot better than that.
Scott McCarron, after sliding off the radar for a few years, came back strongly, almost winning at Greensboro.
Rocco Mediate, who scored points in every category, including fashion, is now wearing pants made from about a quarter of the material he used a season ago. Last year, he could have rigged an America's Cup yacht and had enough left over to mummify Bob Barker.
All three of these players are great guys, and showed great courage to do what they did this year.
Alien Division: Smelldrick Woods. At the Buick Open in San Diego, Tiger devastated the field (and this announcer) with the most difficult of all flatulizations, a perfectly executed triple flirter (degree of difficulty: 5.8) in the full tuck position. It was a harbinger of things to come, taking the wind out of the rest of the field, with whom, for want of a better expression, he wiped the joint up.
Homo Erectile Division: Steve Williams. On links courses, Williams has been known to inadvertently run a supertanker aground, such is the strength and cathedral organ-like frequency of his bunghorn.
In a supreme act of anal ventriloquism, I once saw him throw a fart to the very underpants of the walking scorer, who was so gobsmacked that he actually apologized! Trust me on this one world, Olympic, or extraterrestrial Stevie Williams has no peers.
HAUTE COUTURE FERRET
Alien and Homo Erectile Divisions: Camilo Villegas, who could wear my grandad's long underwear with the 18-wheeler skidmarks on the trap door and still look like a Calvin Klein model. Damn his darkly handsome, sinuous and swinely self!
SHOT OF THE YEAR FERRET
Alien Division: T. (Suck On That One) Woods, for the putt he made on the 72nd hole at the U.S. Open. And yes, I did know he was going to make it. It's what he does.
Homo Erectile Division: Paddy Harrington's 5-wood to four feet on the 71st hole of the British Open. It was bold and unwavering, like me at a Pizza Hut buffet.
MOONSHINE FERRET (Top redneck other than
John Daly, or excellence in
not giving a crap)
A tough one here. Bubba Watson excelled in the golf equivalent of road rage and general homicidal attitude, but Boo Weekley gets by him due to the quality of his play, the fact that he's as funny as Larry the Cable Guy, and that the Ryder Cup interfered with his dove-hunting season.
Also, his consumption of chewing tobacco was enough to make the entire population of China blow chunks, which is a magnificent achievement, considering the air they have to breathe.
STUPIDEST COMMENT FERRET
Bobby Clampett, at the Wyndham Championship, who said, "The wind is blowing from 10 past three," which reduced the rest of the CBS crew to stunned silence and locked up Gary McCord's brain for almost an hour.
A tie between Clampett and McCord. Too many instances to include.
ABE LINCOLN FERRET (Most honest)
Homo Erectile Division: On the final nine at the Zurich in New Orleans, Woody Austin hurled all over his shirt, which fortunately was so awful that no one noticed the stains. Woodrow might be totally unspooled at times, but if he screws up he will always put his hand in the air afterward.
Amateur Division: The young amateur Michael Thompson, who called a penalty on himself on his way to the medal at the Masters. No one other than Thompson could have known about the infraction (his ball moved slightly as he addressed a birdie putt on the 15th green), and in calling it he gave away possibly the most precious prize in the amateur game. In my book, that's a sporting hero.
GLACIER FERRET (Slowest player)
Ziggy, my beagle. Dear god, unless there's a rabbit involved it's like watching the Westminster Dog Show on the Konica Minolta Bizhub Swingvision camera. It takes him 15 minutes to snap off a link, and the last bird he picked up was Kentucky Fried, off the floor of my F-150.
SCARLET BLISTER FERRET (Most psychotic range rat)
Vijay Singh removed more acreage than the next closest player owns in real estate.
DID THE MOST FOR THE GAME FERRET
Me. Again because I never hit a shot.
DENTED SOFA FERRET (Least practice)
As ever, Carlos Franco, who got so winded after his first practice swing that he had to sit down for the first six weeks of the season.
FUNNIEST LINE FERRET
Colin Montgomerie. I have no idea what it was, but I guarantee he wasn't trying to be funny.
FUNNIEST MOMENT FERRET
Vijay Singh winning the FedEx Cup by finishing T44 at the BMW, before the Tour Championship was even played. Cracked me up it did.
STUPIDEST QUOTE FERRET
Initially I thought this was Bubba Watson when he said, "Anyone can win a tournament, but not everyone can hit it long." But after spending a while thinking about it, I thought, actually, wait a minute, he might be right. I'm still not sure whether it's brilliant or ridiculous, but I like it.
BEST CADDIE FERRET
Bones. His relationship with Phil is simple they're best friends, but to the average observer at any given moment, he could be a caddie, parole officer, psychiatrist, fellow mental patient, dream-catcher, bodyguard, brain masseur, and finally just like the rest of us, a bewildered spectator. If you can caddie for Phil, you are probably overqualified to be President of the United States. Now, wouldn't it be nice to finally have one like that?
GOLDEN SKUNK FERRET (Unluckiest player)
Sergio Garcia. I don't care what anyone thinks, I'm a believer. He may not be tactful, but he's honest about how he feels and says very little that isn't actually true. Like Ballesteros and Olazabal before him, he has the fire in his heart. He will win more than one big one. I like him as a person, and I love to watch him play. So there.
PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO MARRY A PORN STAR FERRET
I think a few wives ago John Daly already did. Or maybe not. I don't remember I was drinking at the time, too.
PLAYER WHO SHOULD SERIOUSLY CONSIDER BECOMING A RODEO CLOWN FERRET
He shouldn't quit because he can really play, but Tim Herron would make a great rodeo clown, with a barrel around him and all that. And come to think of it, Rory Sabbattini would be a terrific Mexican fighting bull.
PLAYER/BUREAUCRAT WHO MAKES ME WISH ONE OF THOSE VEHICLES HAD KILLED ME FERRET
Carolyn Bivens, the LPGA czar who demanded that her players bone up on their English. Trust me, I'd like some of the Americans on both Tours to take a shot at learning English, too, but unless I missed the CBS Evening News last night, and we were overrun by Red China, this is still America.
LE FERRET D'OR (THE GOLDEN FERRET)
Camilo Villegas takes home this most coveted of Ferrets, which goes to the player whom I have most enjoyed watching, and whose success or failure has given me the most pleasure.
First off, I like him, and more to the point, I like the crowd that watches him. In all my years in golf, I have never witnessed anyone who attracts more women in heat than this young Colombian.
Villegas and Anthony Kim are the two most exciting young players I've seen for many years. Tiger has been out for a while now, and while the game is certainly better with him around, if nothing else, these last few months have shown us how good the rest of these guys are. I'm going to keep watching.