Sunday, May 08, 2011

Now That's The Way To Finish A Golf Tournament

For a moment Sunday afternoon, about the time everybody coming to the Mother’s Day matinee at the Wells Fargo Championship had arrived, Jonathan Byrd had a four-stroke lead and the chance to siphon the juice out of the warm springtime air.

Then – right after everyone put their caps back on after taking a moment to honor the late Seve Ballesteros -- things got crazy in a Rory Sabbatini, Fear The Beard, Let’s Go To The Video kind of way.

By now, you know how it ended, with Lucas Glover beating his buddy Jonathan Byrd on the first hole of sudden death but getting there was all the fun.

There was a time, though, when it appeared any one of several other players might win. Bill Haas had a chance. Kevin Na had a chance. Until he faded late, Andres Romero looked like he could win without ever having a shot of his televised.

Then Sabbatini arrived, all big hat and attitude, throwing birdies on the board like they were spitballs. Sabbatini is rumored to be facing a PGA Tour suspension for letting his temper get the best of him a couple of times and the possibility of him rolling into the tour’s headquarters this week having just won a big-time event was amusing.

When Sabo birdied 14, 15 and 16 to get a share of the lead, it became a serious possibility. But Sabbatini said, “One short” when he headed to the scoring room after his round and he was right.

While Sabbatini was finishing, Padraig Harrington was being accused of hitting his tee shot on the par-3 13th hole from in front of the markers necessitating a sudden, intense investigation.

A marshal was said to have reported the breach and pretty soon, Harrington and his playing partner, Phil Mickelson were back on the 13th tee studying divots the way David Caruso studies evidence on ‘CSI: Sunglasses.’ After a lengthy review, it was determined that nothing had been determined and, therefore, Harrington was absolved of any guilt.

Harrington is one of the game’s great gentlemen and it was nice to see the relief on his face when the decision had been rendered.

Finally, it came down to a pair of Clemson guys trying to beat each other while keeping their fans in line.

Every time Byrd would hit a tee shot, a few of his fans would shout ‘J-Byrd’ in their football-game voices. Living in tony Sea Island, Ga., as he does, Byrd doesn’t get that every day but he went to Clemson so he understands.

Then there was Glover, who was trailed by a group of guys wearing home-made ‘Fear The Beard’ t-shirts. The good news is they were better than Glover feared they might be when he was told to stay out of the garage where his hosts were making their wardrobe.

By sundown Sunday, Glover was wearing a new navy blazer, one of his prizes for winning a Wells Fargo Championship that looked just great with his beard.