Tears at the Open

July 22, 2013 - 5:03 AM

I don't watch golf very much unless it's nap time and there's nothing good (meaning a black & white spy and/or murder tale) on Turner Classic Movies. But, I watched the British Open golf tournament - which the Brits call The Open Championship - over the weekend.

I am not a good watcher of events like golf tournaments. I tend to root for whomever's leading and, if they stumble, it takes me a while to change my enthusiasm to whomever has taken over the lead.

That's why I used to be such at Tiger Woods fan. He won a lot, and most times when he broke into the lead he stayed there so I expended very little emotional energy. Then he got clocked in the head with a four iron (or whatever) and his victories became less frequent.

I am not that way with local teams. I stopped rooting for the Redskins when they were purchased by Dan Snyder even though I had (and to this very moment have) never met him. Nor had I ever been in the same place at the same time as the previous owner, Jack Kent Cooke.

The Redskins have been mostly bad (96-112) since Snyder bought the team, but they did win the division with a 10-6 record last year with Robert Griffin III under center, so I may be softening on them.

I have rooted for the Washington Nationals since they came to town even though they were the worst team in baseball. Not just at the Major League level, but at any level.

I did not root for them two seasons ago after the geniuses in the communications office decided I wasn't worthy of retaining my press credentials, but I took them off my personal suspension list last year because I like having Major League Baseball in town and I didn't want them to go to Dallas and become the Rangers or to Minneapolis and become the Twins like the last two MLB teams that played here.

I don't understand hockey and I don't like pro basketball, so I am indifferent to the Capitals and the Wizards.

So, golf.

I was rooting for Lee Westwood through most of the final round because he was leading by as many as three strokes and he's a local lad from Britain and all that.

Then he started missing puts and, like the leading bike rider in a stage of the Tour de France, got drawn back to the peloton (which is the main body of riders) and I knew I was going to have to find a new person to root for.

SIDEBAR

Here is one of the dangers of using an unabridged dictionary for the definition of words like peloton: Another definition is

An endotrophic mycorrhiza characterized by coiled masses of hyphae in the host cells

But, I meant the bike rider one.

END SIDEBAR

Anyway, as Westwood began to make bogies, American Phil Mickelson began to make birdies and soon he was leading and I had to decide whether to take the emotional step of hoping he would win.

He made more birdies and it became obvious that he would win so I started rooting for him.

The Brits claim that golf was invented there - specifically at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland - but it's not clear to me how they knew to name the place a "Golf Club" before golf was invented.

Anyway Mickelson in 43 years old and had never won the British Open before and he is, as I am, left-handed so I decided we are sort of buds even though I am 23 years older and couldn't hit a golf ball with a frying pan.

It is traditional that the leader of a major tournament walks up to the 18th green by himself to the cheers of the fans along the way and in the built-up stands surrounding it. They doff their caps or visors and try to look like preparing to win the Open (or the PGA or the Masters) is the most natural thing in the world.

Phil Mickelson didn't do that. As he approached the green the announcers stopped talking and the camera closed in on his face showing his reddened and moist eyes. As someone who cries at happy endings in coffee commercials to the point I make Speaker John Boehner look positively stoic, I am for this.

I was glad I had been pulling for Mickelson all the way with every coiled mass of hyphae in my host cells.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the history of golf, to a long bio of Phil Mickelson, and the definition of a hypha which is the singular form of hyphae. Also a uniquely self-satisfying Mullfoto.