Since I already started one post this week with a look-back to the fall of 1999,* why not another? The 1999 Ryder Cup was one of the greatest sports moments of my life — I’ve never rooted harder for an American team in international competition. When Justin Leonard’s putt back-rimmed and fell, well, that was just about the happiest I’ve ever been about a golf event.
*And while we’re at it, remember this from last year?
Ever since, the Ryder Cup has been one of my three to five favorite sporting events.*
*It’s particularly difficult for me to rank the Ryder Cup because of its biennial nature. As it stands, I look forward to it more than I do the Super Bowl, but if it were every year, this would certainly not be the case.**
**March Madness is indisputably No. 1.
What makes the Ryder Cup so appealing, and why am I particularly amped for today’s conclusion? Let’s count:
1. It’s unlike anything else in golf.
I know we’ve reached a bit of a lull in the sports conversation when preseason NFL games are being broken down into minutiae and ESPN: The Magazine is ranking college football tunnel entrances in its latest issue. There’s a reason we all hate August.
But I didn’t know it had gotten this bad. This 70-hours-of-Little-League-Baseball-on-a-major-sports-network-over-the-course-of-10-days bad. This the-starting-lineups-are-brought-to-you-by-Camp-Rock-2-presented-by-Disney bad.
Can you conceptualize 70 hours of Little League Baseball? That’s seven hours a day! If you’re an American who watches an average amount of television every day, you cannot watch all the Little League World Series action ESPN is jamming down our throats. When it could be airing PTI and a Mariotti-less Around the Horn!
And yes, I can admit it: I hate the Little League World Series.
“The greatest struggle an athlete undergoes is the battle for our memories. It’s gradual. It begins before you’re aware that it’s begun, and it ends with a terrible fall from grace. It really is a battle to the death.”
It hasn’t been a very good year for Tiger Woods.
Perhaps you’ve heard, but within the last 12 calendar months, Woods lost a major he led after 54 holes for the first time in 15 tries, crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant outside his Orlando home, had a deep history of infidelity and sexual philandering thrust into the public eye, issued multiple forced and awkward apologies, and attended sex rehab. And in the time since sex rehab, Woods has not won a single golf tournament.
This has led NPI-favorite Joe Posnanski to openly wonder why everyone still believes in Tiger Woods, why he was still the favorite to win the PGA Championship even though he’s coming off the worst performance of his career, why when he put a poll on his website, only 3% of respondents said Woods would “definitely not” break Jack Nicklaus’ career record of 18 grand slams (Woods has 14) when these days he looks “like everybody else.”
It has also led me, for pretty much the first time ever, to disagree with Joe Posnanski.
What we read while trying to ignore the fact that Amy Mickelson is Tiger’s type…
What we read while reconnecting with our Buddhist roots…
- Tim swears he wrote his ode to curling long before Dan Wetzel and Rick Reilly did their own. And that he hasn’t spent his entire weekend honing his strategy and touch curling online. (By the way, Reilly’s piece is notable for his characteristically condescending portrait of the typical American sports fan via an italicized interlocutor. Nobody disrespects the device of interlocutor as frequently and as frustratingly as Richard Reilly.)
Aught Lang Syne mercifully comes to a close today, 33 days after it started so grandiloquently with that maudlin eulogy to the Aughts. We finish by counting down our top three athletes of the decade. You can find Part I of the countdown here.
5. Torry Holt (157 G, 868 rec, 12,504 yds, 68 TD, 7 Pro Bowls)
4. Tony Gonzalez (158 G, 828 rec, 9,939 yds, 67 TD, 9 Pro Bowls)
3. LaDainian Tomlinson (140 G, 2,878 att, 12,489 yds, 138 TD, 5 Pro Bowls, 1 MVP)
2. Peyton Manning (159 G, 65.9% comp, 42,159 yds, 314 TD, 9 Pro Bowls, 3 MVPs, 1 SB MVP) Continue reading
We’ve already been pretty extensive in breaking down the top 10 games of the decade in the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, college basketball, and college football. But we haven’t yet addressed all those other wonderful sports out there that don’t quite provide us with enough memories for a whole top 10.
Our Top 5 “Other” Games considered events from sports such as golf, tennis, soccer, hockey, the Olympics, college baseball, volleyball, the WNBA, lacrosse, and even the Little League World Series. To trim it down to five, however, we had to cut a few memorable events, most notably Usain Bolt’s victory in the 100m dash at the Olympics (or his 9.58 a year later), Syracuse’s last-second comeback against Cornell in the 2009 Men’s Lacrosse Championship, Texas’ 25-inning 3-2 win over Boston College in last year’s College World Series, the Flyers’ five-overtime win over the Penguins in 2000, the Hurricanes’ buzzer-beater against the Devils in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, and two marathon tennis matches involving Andy Roddick–the first in his quarterfinal victory in the 2003 Australian Open over Younes El Aynaoui (4-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 21-19), and the second in his 2009 Wimbledon final loss to Roger Federer (5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14).
What we read while Tim Tebow cried…
Let me set the scene for you: It’s the final week of the golf season, except nobody notices because the most important tournaments have already been played.
Let me reset the scene for you: It’s the final week of the golf season, and everybody’s* attention is riveted as the most important tournament wraps up six weeks of must-see golf.
*“Everybody” here does not, of course, mean “everybody,” but rather, you know, anyone somewhat enthused by the adventurous journey of that petite dimpled ball.
This is the third year of the FedEx Cup—golf’s subpar attempt at concocting end-of-season excitement with some absurd form of “playoffs.” There are four tournaments, a point system, and a reduced number of players in the field each week. But in 2007, Tiger Woods won easily because he dominated the whole year, and in 2008, Vijay Singh won easily because he won the first two of the “playoff” tournaments.
Golf’s problem is this: It wants the playoffs to be approached both by the players and its fans with the same level of seriousness and significance as the sport’s major championships, played intermittently throughout the season. But therein lies the rub: The playoffs won’t be taken this seriously while they’re competing with the major titles.