Even guys with wrinkles and silver hair and short backswings can make a rookie mistake from time to time, which is what happened when I sat down with some of my so-called pals in the grill room after posting my usual too many.
I mentioned that I needed a column idea. That was like throwing road kill to a bunch of buzzards. Big mistake. Like stepping on a rake or asking somebody about their hip replacement. I motioned to the waitress for another.
"Why don’t you write a followup about the British Open?" Slow Eddie asked, after which he took a deep swig of beer and burped softly. We call him Slow Eddie because he stands over a shot so long you could read "War And Peace" in nine holes. Once or twice, we've thought about calling the coroner.
"Why not write about the British Open?" I said, trying to spread a look of disdain over my face. "Because I'd have to spell Oost.., Oosst, because I'd have to spell the winner's name.
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"Also, because it was boring, which is hard to do at St. Andrews. It was about as entertaining as a tax audit. When a guy's leading by eight shots heading down the stretch and his name is not Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, it's time to turn off the TV and wash the car."
"You don't wash your own car," intoned Slap, a blocky former hockey player whose nickname comes from his habit of tapping the ground several times with his club before hitting, the way he did when there was a faceoff.
"I was taking poetic license," I said. "Genius deserves to be cut a little slack."
This drew groans all around, as I knew it would.
"Hey, genius," said Three-Putt, "how you feel about all those international players winning everything?"
"Well," I said, "if you don't want to see Rory McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa, Geoff Ogilvy, Darren Clarke, Y.E. Yang, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Ernie Els, Stuart Appleby, KJ Choi, Tim Clark, Luke Donald, Camilo Villegas, Graeme McDowell, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, well, I could go on – if you don't want them around, then you're probably strongly in favor of Arizona's immigration stance.
"It's an international game at the top level now," I said, raising my forefinger toward the ceiling and frowning thoughtfully like a politician to emphasize my point. "For the last two years, more foreign players were in the field at the Masters than Americans.
"The Yanks no longer rule the roost. They share it."
"Yeah," said Chili Dipper, "what he said."
I slid my chair back, stood up and said, "Gotta go. Thanks for your help."
"Hold on a minute," barked Dog. "You ain't leaving until you tell us why you don't just write another column about Tiger, are you? Ain't been one about him since yesterday." You needed a sand wedge to cut the sarcasm.
"Well," I said, "based on those letters and e-mails and phone calls complaining that the media give Tiger too much attention, I figure you guys would rather read about monochrome players whose names you never see except in the agate type that tells you they finished 30th and won – no, didn't win, collected – what would amount to a year's salary for your sanitation worker. The next ticket they sell to anybody other than their relatives and friends will be their first.
"No, Tiger doesn't get too much attention. He just sometimes gets the unwelcome kind."
I turned to leave. Slap said, "Well, did you get a column idea?"
"Nope," I said. "See ya."