Feherty takes a look at the 2011 version of the PGA Tour - and he likes what he sees

Feherty takes a look at the 2011 version of the PGA Tour – and he likes what he sees

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Watching golf these days is as much fun as it’s
ever been. Granted, I may have low standards
in this area. I still enjoy watching McCord
hitting fat 4-irons on the range, and the
occasional stone-cold top off the tee from Sir
Ian Ball-Acher Flinch (to which he was occasionally prone even
during the height of his great career), but holy crap, we have some
interesting stuff to watch now, with some of the players who grew
up with Tiger Woods as their hero hitting their prime, and a few
of the older ones getting over their initial shock and awe over the
freakishness of TW’s domination.

In CBS’s opening event at Torrey Pines, we had Philbert Mickelperson
and Bubba Watson going at it (No need to
mess with Bubba’s name. I mean, it’s Bubba…)
to the bitter and twisted end, with Bones
tending the 72nd flag from 75 yards. It
was great stuff, and this writer has had
a changed perception of Watson, B.
since his win at Hartford last year.
Like many others in the media, I
had thought that Bubba was a
little disturbed, maybe some
kind of concussed human
squirrel looking for an imaginary
nutsack. On the course
he was jumpier than a bag of
toads, and liable to snap at
cameramen, course reporters
(though never at me – I always
took the precaution of staying
at least 100 yards away from
him and making stuff up) or
other nearby people for having
an irregular heartbeat, possession of
a yellow shirt, or just being there. What was wrong with the boy
was unclear, but from personal experience I knew that inside his
head there was a mental movie that only he could see.

Now we know about Bubba Watson’s father, and the long battle
with cancer the Green Beret fought with predictable valor while
his son was trying to play the Tour and keep his sleeve-worn heart
from breaking in public. Bubba lost that battle, too, in the arms
of his wife, Angie, on the 16th green after his playoff win over
Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank. Bubba’s dad saw his son win,
though, and before he left us would see him wear the American
flag in a Ryder Cup. I know I speak for a lot of us on this side of
both camera and page when I say that I hope Bubba Watson’s
sorrow is turning quickly to happy memories of a great man, and
I apologize for not understanding him sooner. Occasionally Bubba
might still seem like a basket case, but he is always good TV.

Now we have a bunch of these guys who blow what’s left of
my mind with what they do with club and ball. I remember Matt
Kuchar when I stayed 100 yards away from him as well, in case he
shanked one into the Y of my Fronts, or one of his prepubescent
zits exploded and I got some of it on me. Now look at him – he
can hardly finish out of the top 10 or miss from ten feet, and he
has better skin than Jessica Simpson.

Speaking of fresh faces, Rickie Fowler is following in the Camilo
Villegas tradition of, “Yes, I am that pretty, and I can play, too,” and
he’s just been joined by a guy called Jhonny (and no, that’s not a
typo) Vegas? Seriously, what are the chances that someone called
Jhonny Vegas doesn’t have a criminal record? Yet the closest thing
to a crime this young Venezuelan has committed is not
returning Hugo Chavez’s phone calls. (Frankly, I
think he should be paid extra for this.)

Dustin Johnson was my player of the
year last season. A tall, windswept kid
with a handsome, crooked smile who
pulverizes golf courses into submission
off the tee, he walks with
the athletic grace of a western
gunslinger and makes old folks
like me want to blow chunks.
Of course, in the last round of
the U.S. Open he shot himself
in the foot, invoking inevitable
predictions of his mental demise,
and then had the PGA
Championship stolen from him
in the most horrifying circumstances,
compounded by the
unimaginable trauma of being
dragged naked out of the shower
by me for an interview only minutes
afterwards! After this unrighteous hosing, not only was he honest
and gracious, Dustin was lean, muscular, and he smelled good.
Out of journalistic integrity I’d also gotten naked for the interview,
and that didn’t even bother him! Toss in the way he finished the
year and my friend, if you’re still not a Dustin Johnson fan, you’re
probably Taliban. Do not have a nice day.

I don’t have enough words left to go through all the players
who are worth a mention here, but professional golf is in great
shape. Now, I hope they all learn something from Dustin Johnson
and Bubba Watson, who, like Fuzzy Zoeller and Craig Stadler
before them, show us who the hell they
are. Because it’s not just about great
shots – great people make golf fun to
watch. I know you’ve heard it before,
but these guys are good!