Whiffle: verb – to blow lightly in puffs or gusts; noun – something light or insignificant.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Goydos vs. Stricker

Holy smokes! When I updated the post below saying that Steve Stricker would have his work cut out for him to catch Paul Goydos (who shot 59 this morning) and repeat as champion this week, I didn't think he would try to make it all up in one round! What a match that would have been, if Steve and Paul had been going head-to-head in match play. Perhaps it would have played out something like this (with the leader's score to-par in parentheses) ...

Thru 1: Stricker 1-up (-1)
Thru 2: Stricker 1-up (-2)
Thru 3: Stricker 1-up (-2)
Thru 4: All Square (-2)
Thru 5: Stricker 1-up (-3)
Thru 6: All Square (-3)
Thru 7: All Square (-4)
Thru 8: Stricker 1-up (-5)
Thru 9: Stricker 1-up (-5)

So as they make the turn and grab a lemonade in the clubhouse (with Stricker graciously picking up the tab), Stricker holds a one-hole advantage, having shot 30 to Goydos's 31.
      "Nice shooting, Paul," says Stricker, his eyes welling up with tears at the prospect of a thrilling back nine.
      "Not bad I guess," Goydos responds, rolling his eyes slightly, "for a broken-down old man with no shoulders."
     And the match continues ...

Thru 10: Stricker 1-up (-6)
Thru 11: Stricker 1-up (-7)

The gallery swells as the birdie barrage continues. Somewhere, Phil and Tiger are glued to their TV sets. Phil cheers them both on; Tiger ... plays video games.

Thru 12: All Square (-7)
Thru 13: All Square (-8)
Thru 14: Goydos 1-up (-9)

Goydos hits 3-wood, sand wedge to six feet on 14 to take his first lead of the day with a birdie! Serious buzz about a possible 59 begins to grow. "This is quite a match, don't you think, Paul?" Stricker offers as a means of mutual encouragement. "Pffft," snorts Goydos, a.k.a "Sunshine," who once described himself as "the crust" of the PGA Tour.

Thru 15: Goydos 1-up (-9)
Thru 16: Goydos 1-up (-10)
Thru 17: Goydos 1-up (-11)

"This is surely the greatest game ever played!" declares legendary scribe Bernard Darwin from beyond the grave. "Even better than Ouimet defeating Vardon and Ray in 1913!"
     Inspired, other departed greats of the game begin to weigh in:
     "I expect someone's about to shoot a 59 -- Lord willin', of course," says Byron Nelson.
     "Thes is as braw a roon ay golf as i've ever seen – an' frae tois braw gentlemen ay th' gam," adds Old Tom Morris.
     "Jolly good, I say!" echoes Harry Vardon.
      "You know, I think that's the first time I ever birdied this hole," says Ben Hogan, who seems a bit too involved in his own Heavenly game at the moment.

A rousing ovation erupts for the combatants as they approach the 18th tee -- which quickly turns to a reverent hush as Goydos lines it up. He needs a birdie for 59, but the match still hangs in the balance. Goydos swings and finds the right side of the fairway on the 476-yard par-4. He'll have 177 yards to the front-left pin. Stricker steps up and drives it about 10 yards past Goydos, also on the right half of the fairway.
     Goydos is away, and drills a 7-iron to seven feet. He'll have that for 59 and to win the match – unless Stricker can hole his 160-yard approach. Stricker pulls what looks like a 9-iron – and nearly jars it! He'll have just over two feet to tie if Goydos misses. But Goydos calmly rolls it in to become, at 46, the oldest player to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour and win the match 1-up. And Stricker taps in for 60. Certainly the lowest pair of scores ever recorded in a single match.
     "Well played, Paul," Stricker sniffs, the tears flowing freely now. "Well played."
     "Thanks, Steve," Goydos answers. "Today was a nuclear bomb. I don't know where it came from. If I knew that, I wouldn't be able to touch it."
     Somewhere, Al Geiberger, Chip Beck, David Duval, and Annika Sorenstam are raising a toast – and wondering just what the heck Goydos means by that.

Update: I love this quote from the 5'-9" Paul Goydos: "Most people try to shoot their age. I shot my height." (From the Orange County Register, via golfdigest.com.) What's ironic is that Stricker, who is listed at 6'-0", also shot his height that day! (I love weird stats like that.)

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