Rooting For The Old Guys

views from the booth header v2

Greetings from The Booth!

It’s Masters Sunday, and on this beautiful day, there are plenty of things I should be doing on my property instead of watching golf. The James Wood Touchdown Club delivered my annual 20 bags of mulch yesterday, and and army of leaves remains from the Fall. Not to mention the disheveled condition of my deck. But, as I try to explain to my wife (to no avail), “it’s The Masters!” She just doesn’t get it.

To those of you who are “unwashed,” The Masters is the first “major” tournament of the professional golf season. It is the perfect convergance of the time of year, the importance of the tournament, and the venue. Augusta National in the Spring is one of the most beautiful sights in golf, and the famed green jacket that goes to the Masters champion is one of the most coveted prizes in golf.  It is, as they say, a tradition like no other.

Every year, I like to root for the old guys at the Masters. I’ve been doing this ever since Jack Nicklaus, at age 46, won the 1986 Masters, his sixth and final green jacket. For many years after that tournament, I always hoped against hope that the Golden Bear could repeat the feat. There were several times that Jack showed flashes of his younger self, but could never seem to put 4 rounds together at Augusta and shock the golf world.

Next in line was Freddie Couples. Like me, Couples was born in 1959. I was at Congessional Country Club in DC in 1983 as a member of the media when Freddie won the 1983 Kemper Open and have been a fan ever since. A 1992 Masters winner, Couples contended for the green jacket in 2006, and would have been the oldest Masters winner had he pulled it off that year. “Boom Boom,” as he’s called, has been plagued with back problems throughout his career, but last year at age 63, made the cut at Agusta. This year, Freddie struggled with his back and missed the cut.

My old guy of choice the last several years has been Tiger Woods. I’ve never been a huge Tiger fan, but I do acknowledge that he is one of the top 2 golfers of all-time (I still think Jack is the best, but we can have that discussion another day). In recent years, Woods has had more surgeries that the “Operation” board-game guy, and has only played sporadically. At 43, Tiger won the 2019 Masters, a comeback story for the ages. This year, at 48, Woods will not win the Masters (his tournament ended at the time of this post), but did set the record for most consecutive cuts made at 24. Tiger will never be the player he once was, but his very presence at Augusta makes us believe he can do it one more time.

And speaking of old guys, this will be the final Masters for broadcaster Vern Lundquist, who will be forever linked with Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters win. Today’s TV broadcasters should take a lesson from Vern, who understood that it’s about pictures, not words. And if you listen very close this afternoon during today’s final round of the Masters, you might hear the words “Yes Sir!” ringing through the Georgia pines.

Until the next visit from The Booth…Old Guys Rule!

RW

 

Sports: Thursday, April 20, 2023

Nats Blanked Again By Birds, Scherzer Ejected, Woods On The Shelf

MacKenzie Gore gets Ryan Mountcastle to ground out into an inning-ending DP in the Nats’ 4-0 loss to Baltimore. Courtesy of the Nationals Radio Network…

Sports Dogs Podcast: Masters Preview

In this edition, we take a break from basketball and join up with Nick Ciattei of Mid Atlantic Golf Getaways and preview golf’s first “major,” the 2023 Masters, as the world’s top golfers get ready to tee it up from famed Augusta National. Who will don the green jacket this Sunday? Enjoy the witty banter! (and Nick’s golf attire!)

 

Closing The Deal II

Greetings from The Booth!

I’m writing this week’s VFB a day removed from yet another school shooting, this one in Uvalde, Texas. Our hearts break for everyone in that community, especially the parents of the children whose lives were senselessly and prematurely taken away yesterday, and for the surviving students whose innocence was stolen forever. In light of that unspeakable loss, sports doesn’t seem that important. But life goes on somehow, and we will try to put sports in it’s proper perspective as we write this week’s blog…

Putting a bow on the Shenandoah University baseball season, there is nothing like that empty feeling in the gut when a season ends before it should have. I’m sure the host Hornets had every expectation of winning the NCAA D-3 Winchester Region this past weekend and advancing to the Super Regional round. But after a tough Saturday afternoon loss to Catholic, SU was forced to play again Saturday evening just to get to the championship round on Sunday. Down 8-2, the Hornets found a way to beat St. Joseph in a gutsy comeback win. Speaking of gutsy, Jacob Bell gave the Hornets 7-plus innings in Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Cardinals that earned him a standing “O” from the sun baked crowd at Bridgeforth.  Then, in a winner-take-all second game, SU jumped out to a 6-0 lead, then simply ran out of gas in a 13-10 loss which ended their season. That final game wrapped up a stretch of 4 games in 24 hours for Shenandoah, and as Head Coach Kevin Anderson told me after the Sunday win, “we’re running on fumes.”

When the sting of defeat wears off, the Hornets will look back on a 37-win season, an ODAC Tournament championship, a national ranking, and a championship appearance in the NCAA Regionals. You would take that in a heartbeat every time and not even take the field. Congratulations to Kevin, his players and coaching staff for another great season! The dynasty continues…

This past weekend, golf’s second major, the PGA Championship was held at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Justin Thomas came from 7 shots down to win his second Wanamaker Trophy by beating Will Zalatoris in a 3-hole playoff.  That is a great accomplishment, but he needed help. Leading by 1 shot and needing a par on the 18th hole, tournament leader Mito Pereira took one of the worst swings you’ll ever see from a professional and put his drive into a creek. He eventually bogeyed the 18th and missed out not only on the championship, but the playoff.  Not quite Jean Van Develde material, but heartbreaking nonetheless.

SIDEBAR: Can we now put the Tiger Woods buzz to rest? What he did at the Masters was Alex Smith-like and no one can fault him for fading on the weekend. At the PGA, more of the same, as colder weather charged in Friday like a steer (one of 2 things that come from Oklahoma) and certainly affected Tiger’s injured leg. But until he’s actually in contention on a weekend, can we just back off on the almost excessive Tiger Woods coverage? Yes, he moves the needle and gets ratings, but I’m sure there are many talented players on Tour who must feel that they get no love whatsoever. OK, that’s my rant.

Players respond differently to pressure, and Pereira succumbed to it, while JT, who has “been there before,” thrived on it. Pereira hopefully will learn from the experience, and next time will be able to close the deal. Thomas is already a closer.

Until next visit from The Booth, God bless Uvalde, Texas…and GO HORNETS!

RW

 

Sports Dogs Podcast: Talkin’ PGA With Nick

In the latest edition of the Sports Dogs Podcast, the R-dog is joined by Nick Ciattei of Mid Atlantic Golf Getaways, as they break down golf’s second major, The PGA Championship from Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Some Tiger talk, an overview of the monster course, and of course, our predictions for the weekend. Enjoy!