The Gerbil From Hell

I was always pervertedly fond of the way Corey Pavin played, even though losing to the Chaplin-esque chopper is like getting your ass kicked by a grinning garden gnome. He was listed at 150 pounds, but I never believed it. In his heyday he looked as if breaking wind on his downswing might cause him to fly out of bounds. Occasionally his caddie would absentmindedly try to put a headcover on him and stuff him into his own bag.

But he could certainly get it around a golf course with that ghastly-looking, low, skanky cut of his, which was especially disagreeable after you’d watched it a few times and realized he was actually trying to do it (by which time you were about three shots behind him). He could get in your face, too, like he did in the ’91 Ryder Cup at Kiawah, charging out from behind the sandhills like Hobbit O’Rommel, pumping his horrible little knotted fists and sending the crowd into orbit. As a member of the European team, I was on the wrong end of that one.

Not so long ago, the game was harder for really tall guys like Weiskopf and Oosterhuis, because a golf club that fitted people their size had the attributes of a tire-iron, and was similarly balanced. But with lighter shafts and heads, the spikes are now on the bigger feet. (That’s why there are more good left-handed players these days, too: their equipment no longer sucks.) To trade punches with today’s heavyweights, the little guys have to hit the exact center of the clubface pretty much all of the time, and be able to get it up and down from everywhere. You have to admire the wee ones, like Jeff Sluman and Fred Funk, who could share a pair of Ernie Els’s Y-fronts, and Pavin, who could hide under his hat; each is living proof that on a good day, a determined flea can still bite the Tour’s big dogs. But the guy who takes golf to the next level will probably be a giant, and the small in stature will be left playing uphill and into the tide.

This brings us back to Pavin, who thank God decided to play on. I say thank God because I find it much safer to talk about the ratbag than compete against him, and for a while there I was sure he was after my job. Following a stint for ABC a couple of years ago, he seemed destined to flounce the fairways with a microphone before long. The little swine was good at it, and the last thing I need is Pavin, the beastly, shaven-headed gerbil from hell, gnawing at my vitals again, or (horror of horrors) Nick Faldo, who is sucking up to ABC with a transparently obvious foreign-accent ploy. How pathetic is that? At least Azinger has the decency to sound American. Even though they’re pimping for another network, I hope every one of these devious reprobates suffers an immediate resurgence in his game. Not that I’d want to appear mean-spirited, but if they fired Edward R. Murrow, I have a feeling that they can almost certainly dispense with me.

Anyone smarter than a sack of bad shellfish would notice that my act is getting old. I wouldn’t want any of this to go on the record, but I am the single laziest, most irresponsible, ungrateful journalist/announcer I know, and most days I don’t smell particularly good either. I had to quit drinking several months ago, and now I’m in a permanently crappy mood, completely unreceptive to any more change. It has become throbbingly obvious that the only way I can continue to get away with this job is to do my best to ensure I’m surrounded by imbeciles like McCord, Clampett and, of course, the staff of Golf Magazine. I do have a minor problem with Oosterhuis and the rest of the CBS crew, but I’ve calculated that the mercury I’m putting in their tea should start to kick in around The Memorial. The fact that Maltbie is on board with USA Network isn’t going to hurt either. I can’t wait to work with him. He’ll make me look both smarter and thinner, although I have lost almost 50 pounds in order to ensure that I appear even more magnificent than usual.

However, I am still experiencing a feeling of general unease. The next thing you know, Faldo will be writing a column full of smarmy wit, fart jokes and self-deprecation. Bugger it! That’s the problem with raising the bar. Even the big guys can get underneath it.