1. Golf fans. Sunday had it all — drama, history, spectacular shotmaking and three fantastic, diverse stages in Birkdale, Sahalee and the Greenbrier. For 10 hours it was impossible to leave the couch. At least, that’s what I told my wife.
2. Stuey. Great guy, great swing. The missing ingredient has always been passion. Maybe Appleby’s 59 will spur him on to great heights, maybe it won’t. Either way, his magical round at the Greenbrier is likely to always be his greatest moment.
3. The LPGA. Among the things I love about this tour is that the major championships are usually won by big-time players. You won’t get a better quartet than Yani, Cristie, Paula and Yani. With all the jockeying going on atop the World Ranking, Tseng’s double-dip has given this LPGA season some much-needed clarity.
4. Nick Faldo. He had one of his best telecasts of the year on Sunday, including some incisive analysis about how the new grooves were making it easier to control approach shots to the Greenbrier’s soft greens. I wish Nasty Nick would stop mumbling and be this assertive more often.
5. Ray Halbritter. The head honcho at Turning Stone avoided a P.R. fiasco by deciding not to burn a sponsor’s exemption on himself, instead granting Kirk Triplett a spot in the field. This gives us the chance to reflect on Triplett’s career and collectively ask, “Didn’t that dude retire like five years ago?”
1. Jeff Overton. He didn’t prevail at the Greenbrier but still deserves a trophy: best actor, for his hissy fit on the 71st hole. Maybe that crucial little putt he missed did hit a spike mark, but that’s part of the game. Memo to Overton — skip all the bush histrionics and man-up and make birdie at the last.
2. The USGA/R & A. Advances in equipment are the biggest reason why the 7,000-yard golf course is now obsolete to Tour pros. What’s it gonna take for the governing bodies to finally take notice? Dudes shooting in the 50s on a regular basis? It’s already happening.
3. Freddy. It wasn’t a surprise the flighty superstar got dusted by Bernhard Langer, but what a ghastly way to blow a feel-good hometown story: a snowman on the second hole of the final round. Couples has always been a talented tease who couldn’t win the big one, so why would that change now?
4. Paddy. He came up short at the Irish Open — running his winless drought to a full two years — and now comes word that Harrington lost some $5 million investing in a failed tech firm. At least he gets to go to Firestone this week, where he has such good vibes.
5. Katherine Hull. She made a spirited run at the Women’s British but missed a short putt on the 71st hole and then chunked a chip on the 72nd. It never ceases to amaze me how drastically seasoned pros are affected by pressure on the closing holes of a big tournament. Sadly, players like Hull rarely get the chance to make amends.