TUCSON, Ariz. Woody Austin says that heckling is a dying art.
It's not a matter of quantity. Fans have been shouting "Hey, Aquaman!" ever since Woody did a half-gainer into a pond at last year's Presidents Cup.
But the caliber of the taunts leaves a lot to be desired.
"It's fun, I don't have a problem with it," says Austin, whose infamous belly flop is being shown over and over during commercial breaks for the WGC-Accenture Match Play. "But if it was original, you know, if somebody could throw a spin on it here and there. There's one hole with water on this golf course, ONE. To be told 'Stay away from the water!' for four and a half hours, when there's no water ..." He shakes his head.
"And the one that still gets me is, 'Where are your goggles?' Like a golfer has goggles in his golf bag. That one kind of throws me for a loop, too."
Woody hurt my feelings with his remarks, because I've been working long hours with my heckling coach. Yesterday, when Austin hit a loose shot during his 19-hole win over Adam Scott, I shouted, "Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep!"
Woody didn't even look up.
Today, when he 3-putted the 13th hole during his 3-and-2 dispatching of Boo Weekley, I yelled, "Hey, Woody! The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives!"
Again, nothing. He didn't even acknowledge the Samuel Taylor Coleridge quatrain on my hand-lettered sign: Water, water, everywhere/ And all the boards did shrink / Water, water everywhere / And not a drop to drink.
So tomorrow morning, when Woody plays Henrik Stenson in the Match Play quarterfinals, I'm going to send him off the first tee with a fragment of the 77th Psalm: "The waters saw you, Aquaman, the waters saw you and writhed! The very depths were convulsed!"
If that doesn't get his attention, I'll wait until he hits one in a bunker. Then I'll yell, "You don't miss your water until your well runs dry!" or "Water is the blood in our veins!"
And if Woody actually rinses one in the big pond on the Gallery's fourth hole, I'm going to summon up my best Francis of Assisi baritone and bellow this:
"Be praised, Aquaman, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure!"
He wants a spin on it, I'll throw him a spin on it.