Battle at Bighorn Revisited
A Night To Forget
Saying that ABC's Battle at Bighorn on July 30 was a disaster is like saying General Custer had a bad hair day at the Battle of Little Bighorn. To make matters worse, Tiger Woods has signed on for five more of these embarrassing money grabs. What was wrong with Woods and Annika Sorenstam's one-up win over David Duval and Karrie Webb? Let me count the ways and offer a few suggestions.
Show some life out there. Who scripted Duval, Sorenstam and Webb? Ben Hogan? Woods didn't say much worth listening to either, although his zinger at 14, after Sorenstam had putted off the green and he had to chip back on, wins best-in-show. When his ball stopped a few feet from the hole, Woods muttered to his caddie, "We have a chance to two-putt from there." The point is, we didn't tune in to watch the golf. We wanted to see behind the sunglasses. Bring back Sergio Garc�a. We'd even take Helen Alfredsson or John Daly.
Move it, people. The pace was deadly, even slower than a baseball game. Only one thing is worse than watching four golfers trudge up the fairway, and that's suffering through another four-minute barrage of the same commercials. With only two balls in play, playing 18 holes shouldn't take more than three hours, yet the fab four needed four hours and 22 minutes. Solution: tape delay. Boil down the whole shebang into a fast-paced two hours, or at least give us the Reader's Digest version of the front nine.
Alternate what? Nobody in the U.S. plays alternate shot. The format is a relic. One-on-one matches are always best, but if you must play some sort of team game, go better-ball.
Lose the women. Earth to Ty Votaw: You think having 8.6 million people see your two best golfers play like chopsticks was good for the LPGA? I'll take Duval, fresh off his win in the British Open, straight up against Woods any day. Or try these matchups: Woods versus a Guy Who Came Close but Couldn't Get the Job Done ( Ernie Els, Tom Lehman, Davis Love III, Bob May, Colin Montgomerie or Jesper Parnevik) or Woods versus a Guy Who Relished Beating Him ( Thomas Bjorn, Phil Mickelson, Hal Sutton, Lee Westwood, yes. Ed Fiori, no).
Desert the desert. When Sorenstam putted off the green, ABC's Al Michaels nailed it: "That scene had everything but the clown's mouth." I've seen one tricked-up desert course too many. Show me a great course, one that I'd give anything to play. Bandon Dunes, Cypress Point, Merion, Pine Valley, Sand Hills, Seminole and Shadow Creek jump to mind. Even Isleworth—wave to Shaq, everybody!—would've been better than Bighorn.
Give us the golf guys. Michaels is not the voice of golf, and he took me out of my comfort zone. Give me Peter Alliss. Throw in Judy Rankin and Mike Tirico. For comic relief, bring in Bill Murray.
LPGA's Yankee Doodle Dandy
The dearth of U.S. winners in 2001 was the talk of the LPGA tour long before Se Ri Pak of South Korea won the Women's British Open on Sunday to complete a sweep of the distaff majors by international players for the first time in the 74-year history of major championships. There's cause for concern among the American women—counting Dorothy Delasin's victory at the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic two weeks ago, U.S. players have won only six of 25 tournaments this year—but help is on the way. It's only a matter of time before 26-year-old Laura Diaz becomes a force on the tour.