The Tennis & Golf Seasons are in Full Swing
LET THE (MID) SEASON BEGIN
The seasons are just underway and, if, as they say, the best is yet to come, the best is going to be very, very good. Both the tennis and golf tours are already in mid season form, in different ways. In tennis the ageless Roger Federer has already set the stage for what he hopes will be a minor comeback season. Though he was beaten by Andy Murray just a few minutes ago in the men’s semi finals of the first major on the tennis calendar, the Australian Open, Murray taking the fifth set easily, Federer forced the fifth set by winning a tie break in the fourth after breaking back down 6-5 in the final game. Federer went five sets back to back in the quarters and semis to serve notice for the rest of the season while Murray sets his own stage for the season when he faces top seed Novak Djokovic in the final with a chance to break through and establish himself as the new force in tennis right off the top of the season. The golf season, meanwhile, has unfolded a layer at a time. The PGA Tour is into it’s fourth event but, to many, this weekend’s Farmers Insurance Open is the first one that really counts. The inaugaral event, three weeks ago in Hawaii, was not a full field event, it was for Tour champions only, and the two biggest winners of last season, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, were among the missing, as was another high profile winner from last year, Phil Mickelson. Though the first full field event, the Sony Open, was played a week later, also in Hawaii, it was also played with a watered down field. Phil made his Tour season debut last week in La Quinta, California, when the Tour moved stateside, but the world’s top ranked twosome, Rory and Tiger, were collecting exhorbidant appearance fees at the Abu Dhabi Classic. Now, with Tiger and Phil in the field, everyone’s already in midseason form as the pursuit of the title “King of the Swing” hits high gear. If the scores in the first round of the Farmers is any indication, with the vast majority of the field under par, the golfers are already well tuned. But the scores are more likely a tribute to the course and it’s degree of difficulty. I was referring to the golf media. Tiger has already jumped to the top of their leader board. Let the pandering begin. Last week Tiger missed the Abu Dhabi cut when he was penalized for an illegal drop, taking relief for a ball embedded in sand, or, as one report explained it, had two strokes taken away from him, while excusing that you’d expect his play to be sporadic because it was his first tournament of the year. So it was for most of those who made the cut ahead of him and, with the extension of the golf season into the holiday season, no one has an excuse for being away from the game for too long. The Golf Network was on top of its game, going to commercial breaks, talking head sessions and instructional videos after one Tiger shot and returning just in time for the next while live golf was being played elsewhere on the course all the time. The announcers are just tuning up for Tiger at the majors. “Great stroke, great putt”, came the commentary as Tiger missed a putt and had to settle for a bogey, “The green just broke away from the hole at the end.” Damn greens, how can they be allowed to do that? One national network sportscast this morning reported that Tiger was three strokes off the lead after his first round of the PGA Tour season, but it failed to mention who was in the lead. Just for the record, Brandt Snedeker and K.J. Choi. Seventy days to the Masters and everyone’s in midseason form. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.