The Back Nine got in trouble at home for yelling too much during The Masters, but DID YOU SEE WHAT JUST HAPPENED? Kind of depressing today now that The Masters is over, there is no more college basketball, spring football is finis and the Rangers have been eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup playoffs. What is the Back Nine supposed to do with spare time, read a book or something?
10. So here is the question I have for you peeps — was Phil Mickelson’s shot from the pine straw at 13 on Sunday one of the greatest shots ever or is it diminished by the fact that he missed the putt? I’m just saying. Here’s me as the announcers say he’s going for the green. “No, Phil. No. Don’t do it. How many times do you have to learn the hard way? Lay it up.” Whap, whoosh, thud. “You da man, Philly Mick!” That was an amazing shot, but he won the tournament with that par putt on 17 that gave him a two-shot cushion. I don’t know if I’d take it as far as Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly, who said Phil won for women because he’s the guy who jets home after every tournament to be with his sick wife. In the end, Phil won for Phil. And it’s a good thing he won or we’d be hearing for weeks about the single maple seed that mysteriously landed in front of his putt on No. 2 Sunday. By Monday night, TMZ would have footage of Tiger Woods flicking something from his finger in the third fairway and speculating that it was the maple seed in question.
11. At any rate, that was my second favorite Masters ever. My favorite will always be 1986 when Jack Nicklaus won at age 46. But this was close. It had everything, multiple hole-outs from the fairway, holes in one, train wrecks, a 16-year old and a 60-year old making the cut. You didn’t have to like golf to like this tournament. You only need to like drama. We even had fashion statements including Freddie Couples’ shoes. I had a dozen people ask me what in the heck he was wearing. They are the latest hybrids in golf called Golf Street shoes produced by ECCO Golf. The spikeless shoes can be worn to work and on the golf course. Socks, as Couples showed, are optional.
12. So what are we to make of Tiger Woods in his first time back? As expected, it became about golf once he teed it up Thursday. For him to finish fourth shows what an amazing golfer he is, but what happened to him is what happens to most golfers when they take time off. They come back and play pretty good before the rust eventually catches up with them. What he did on 14 was inexcusable, nonchalanting a two-foot putt because he knew he had almost no chance after missing the birdie. The putt lipped out, giving him a bogey. That’s the kind of thing you see John Daly do. But I do agree with Woods when he said way too much was made of him showing or not showing emotion on the course. Get over it. Last thing on Tiger (for now) — the spoof of the now-infamous Nike ad on Saturday Night Live made me laugh so hard a little cranberry juice came out of my nose. The spoof showed Kenan Thompson dressed as Tiger with the following voice-over that sounded much like Earl Woods. “Tiger. I know this goes without saying. But when I’m gone please don’t use my voice on a commercial. And if you do, please don’t make it for a commercial trying to sell sneakers after a sex scandal. But you know that, right?”
13. Florida’s baseball team keeps playing with its fans. Every time they seem to get momentum, there is a bad loss. And every time you’re starting to wonder if they are any good, they get a big win. Florida is 10th in the SEC in hitting in conference games only. In SEC games, shortstop Nolan Fontana is hitting .212, second baseman Josh Adams .116 and catcher Mike Zunino .057. And yet it was Adams who had the biggest hit of the weekend at Tennessee, breaking a scoreless tie with a sixth-inning homer. This is a team built on pitching and defense and if one doesn’t show up, the bats aren’t good enough for a big rally. Still, Florida is one game out of first in the league and on track to host a regional.
14. Congrats to Aja Paculba, who set a UF record for most runs scored in a career. The softball team is almost opposite of the baseball team. When the Gators fell behind 3-0 early Saturday at Arkansas, you just shrugged it off. This team can smack the ball around. Funny thing, though, Tim Walton’s team almost definitely will break its own record for homers in a season and there are two SEC teams tied with the Gators with 68 homers — Alabama and Georgia. Boy, this game has changed. One reason Florida scores runs the way it does — it is last in the SEC in strikeouts.
15. Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of the other spring games is that Steve Spurrier is in breakdown mode with Stephen Garcia. The quarterback said he was “upset” to hear Spurrier say the quarterback job was up for grabs, but we all know that the ball coach has used this motivation before. Garcia was 8-of-15 in the spring game, which was called after three quarters. It could be a volatile season in Columbia.
16. I know where you can get some tickets to the NCAA Gymnastics meet cheap. Georgia fans had bought up a bunch in anticipation of following their team down to Gainesville. But the GymDogs didn’t qualify, losing on a tiebreaker. There will be some Georgia gymnasts here for the individual competition but much less barking. The NCAA official Web site had a story wondering who would stop Georgia at the national meet (it has since been changed). Turns out it was just the city limits that stopped the Bulldogs.
17. They demolished Texas Stadium in 60 seconds and people tailgated before the dynamite rendered it into rubble. That got me to thinking what it would be like if UF ever decided to build a modern 100,000 seat stadium and knocked down The Swamp. Would you tailgate? Would we produce a special section? Would anyone shed a tear? Don’t worry. It’s not happening in my lifetime.
18. The ultimate summer playlist is still in the works and this week we’re adding “Hallelujah” from 3 Bucksworth, “Everybody’s Hurting” by Jakob Dylan and for the old-schoolers a little “My Back Pages” from Dylan’s old man.