Woods deserves a loud cheer, but we need to remain silent

Commentary

The Kickoff

July 24, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

Tiger Woods let it all out yesterday, releasing a huge burst of emotion after he dropped the final putt to win the British Open for the second straight year. He clutched his caddie and then his wife, tears flowing as the significance of his first major victory since the death of his father hit home in a big way.

Indeed, the iceman came unglued after staring down the rest of the field at Royal Liverpool on the way to an 18-under-par 270, but he also served notice that he is all the way back as the engraver carved his name on the famous claret jug during the final two holes of the tournament.

The symbolism was everywhere, from the beautiful weather that allowed Woods and several other top golfers to score impressively throughout the weekend to the final pairing with Sergio Garcia, who once was considered a legitimate threat to Woods' international pre-eminence but must have realized early in the round that trying to upstage him will always be a fool's errand.

The real challenger yesterday was Chris DiMarco, who also was fueled by the devastating loss of a parent. He dedicated the tournament to his late mother and stayed on Woods' heels with clutch putt after clutch putt, but Woods finally drew away with birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 16 to set up a triumphant walk up the fairway at 18.

Woods and Garcia were put on the clock by tournament officials for slow play during the final round. Garcia used to be known for his infuriatingly deliberate style, but the problem actually stemmed from the number of times Woods stepped away from his tee shot because his routine was interrupted by camera clicks from the gallery.

I love golf, but I still have to chuckle when a player gets upset at the slightest noise from the fans. Derek Jeter can hit a 95 mph fastball with 50,000 people screaming at him and Peyton Manning can throw a football through the eye of a needle with four 300-pound guys trying to kill him, but a professional golfer needs total silence to hit a ball that he has teed up right where he wants it.

Personally, I prefer no-etiquette golf, but what other kind is there when you're playing with Chip Franklin?

I suppose a mea culpa is in order after I predicted yesterday that Jim Furyk would become the first golfer ever to defeat Tiger in a major in which Woods was leading after three rounds. Obviously, it didn't happen.

By the way, if you actually thought I could see into the future, you might want to try my new Internet gambling site - www.throwyourmoneydownahole .com.

Right before Woods arrived at the 18th green, a demonstrator peppered it with small purple "flour bombs." The protester apparently was representing a group called Fathers 4 Justice, which seeks fairer treatment of fathers in child custody cases.

Well, at least the guy kept his knickers on, which is an improvement over Wimbledon.

For those who have been bemoaning the end of American sports hegemony, yesterday was a pretty good day. Woods became the 10th Yank in 12 years to win the British Open and Floyd Landis maintained U.S. domination of the Tour de France with a victory that seemed out of reach just a few days ago.

It's hard to be humble, but we're not doing quite so well in the World Series of Darts, which aired on ESPN2 yesterday afternoon. Only one American was still alive going into the quarterfinals of the event, which should give a big boost to British self-esteem.

Yes, ESPN is televising darts, and I've got no problem with that. It's certainly more of a sporting event than the World Series of Poker or the National Spelling Bee. You try hitting a half-inch circle from 8 feet after six pints of Guinness.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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