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After ten years of husbanding, a happy ending.
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As for Tiger Woods, he never has played the New Orleans tourney. Not once. Not even after Katrina, when he of all people could have turned the beleaguered city’s event into a showcase for the world. And not the next year, or the year after, or the year after that. Never.
His absences have been just, well, wrong. Inexcusable.
But anyway, back to the Open. Mickelson is 39 now. He presumably doesn’t have more than another four or five years of being enough at the top of his game to actually win a brutal U.S. Open test. He has finished second four times, without ever raising the trophy. Time’s-a-wasting.
Others, of course, could win. Masters champion Angel Cabrera won the Open in 2007. Geoff Ogilvy, who found the trophy in his lap when Phil phlicked it away in the aforementioned 2006 debacle, already has won two tournaments this year. Two-time Open champion Ernie Els is finally hitting the ball brilliantly again, and needs only to find his putting stroke to contend. Two-time Open champion Retief Goosen won a tourney earlier this year and is at the ready, while England’s Paul Casey may be the hottest man in golf.
None of those stories would be satisfying though. Nor would another Woods win — after last year’s heroics, another Woods victory would seem ho-hum, and far, far too predictable.
And certainly not cosmic justice.
Fans should keep returning to that photo of Payne Stewart, face alight in joy, holding Mickelson’s own face in his hands while telling him that fatherhood beats a trophy any day. Methinks Stewart, looking down from heaven, has one dispensation left.
He used his first one just months after his death when his best friend Paul Azinger, once one of the game’s very best players until his life was threatened with serious cancer at age 33, came out of nowhere to win the Hawaiian Open in his very first tourney after Stewart’s death. It was the first time in the six years since his cancer that Azinger won a title — and he hasn’t won one since.
The second dispensation again involved Azinger. For years one of the great highlight shots used to open golf telecasts was the one of Azinger, head barely peaking above the lip of a deep, deep bunker on the 18th green of Nicklaus’s Muirfield Village course, erupting in joyful shock when his sand shot trickled sideways into the cup to beat Stewart by one stroke in the 1993 Memorial Tournament, just months before Azinger’s cancer diagnosis. Fast forward to the 2002 Ryder Cup, the first one after Stewart’s death, on the final hole, with the U.S. team on the verge of defeat. Azinger again was bunkered, deep, and again he faced a sharply sideways-leaning green. The shot was almost identical to the one that beat his pal Stewart nine years earlier — and only if Azinger holed it would the U.S. squad stay alive in the competition.
If a viewer didn’t see Stewart reach down from heaven to shove that ball in the cup, they weren’t looking closely enough. ‘Zinger’s heroics, alas, were not enough: The Americans still lost, a few minutes later. But Zinger had done his part to ward off defeat, in a shot so reminiscent of his iconic moment against Stewart that it was spooky.
Well, here’s saying that Stewart has been saving his last dispensation for seven more years. Here’s saying he intends, through some blessed means beyond our knowing, to keep Phil Mickelson’s head on straight down the stretch. Here is Stewart, holding Mickelson’s head in both hands. Here is Stewart, saying that the ten-year anniversary is the time to repay the debt of sportsmen — and to somebody else haunted by cancer. Here is Payne Stewart, helping Phil Mickelson overcome his years of frustration, whispering into the younger man’s ear.
What is he saying?
“You’re a good husband, and now you’re a champion. Tell Amy that this one is for her.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?