Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kenny, Angel, Tiger & Phil

Some quick post-Masters thoughts:

Angel Cabrera proved that just hanging around can be good enough to win a major. As brilliant as he was over the first 3 days, he was simply average on Sunday. The thing he didn't do was allow the final round pressures to bog him down. He felt the heat, but didn't wilt in it. That might not be saying much, but it translated into a green jacket--and ultimately, that's the prize at Augusta.

Kenny Perry did just the opposite. He did fade when it mattered most. If he navigates 17 & 18 in a total of 9, he wins the jacket. Granted, going one over par in the final 2 holes at Augusta isn't exactly the easiest thing to do, but after the way he played the first 70 holes (he made 5 bogeys all week to that point), one would figure him going 4-5 or 5-4 and icing it. He was the one that froze up, and as a result, it cost him. I hated seeing his collapse--I was pulling hard for him Sunday afternoon. What a wonderful story he has been over the past couple years (dedicating himself to earn a Ryder Cup spot last year, winning as often as he did in 2008, etc). Would have been nice to see him slip that coat over his shoulders.

It sounded unlikely Sunday afternoon, but Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson had a legit shot at winning on Sunday. While Tiger seemed unimpressive in his opening 9 (a 3 under par 33), Phil was on the money with his -6, opening 30. Phil's biggest gaffe was a punched 9 iron at the 12th, a swing he didn't want to make (he told himself to hit through the shot). The ball ended up in Rae's Creek, he made a double, then followed that up with missed birdie chances at 15 and 17. Tiger got it close as well, but staggered to the finish at 17 & 18. In the end, it likely wouldn't have mattered as Perry, Cabrera and Chad Campbell all finished at -12, 1 better than Phil or Tiger would have gotten to. It does make you wonder, though. Had Tiger and/or Phil posted a score in double digits--a 10 or 11 under par--would that have backed up the trio that went to the playoff?

Quail Hollow Championship is inching closer and closer...this week the Tour is in Hilton head, then New Orleans, before arriving in Charlotte. Can't wait to see the best players in the world take on Quail Hollow Club again. Hope you are enjoying our hole-by-hole preview of Quail Hollow, as we have spiced things up by bringing Hollywood to the golf course. If you don't know what I mean, check out the previews on Sports Night at 10. We're having a good time with these.

It's been a tough week for baseball. First the tragic loss of Nick Adenhart last week in a car accident, then legendary voice Harry Kalas AND Mark "The Bird" Fidrych pass away on Monday. Broadcasters everywhere felt the sting of Kalas--a golden voice that called so many Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles games, as well as his work for NFL Films. He was a giant in the craft, and will be deeply missed.

Fidrych was one of the quirkiest pitchers baseball has ever known--you could compare him to Turk Wendell, but he might have been nuttier. Fidrych you to groom the mound, talk to the ball, etc, DURING THE GAME. Still, he got it done. In his far too short 5 year career, Fidrych earned the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1976, and went 29-19 overall. People may think that players that behaved like The Bird" did are bad for the game. I disagree. There's nothing wrong with a splash of color. Never has been.

Mike Solarte

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