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So that will put two Masters champions named Watson on the premises at Muirfield Village Golf Club this year. Two-time Memorial champion Tom Watson is the tournament honoree this year.
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And laugh it does, more often than not. Throughout history.
Ben Hogan developed the yips. Ha.
Roberto De Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard that cost him a chance to win the 1968 Masters. Ha-ha.
David Duval lost his game and gained a lot of weight. ROTFL.
Ben Curtis heard the snickers, too.
“If Lee Westwood is the best player never to win a major, then Curtis might be the worst player ever to win a major.”
Never mind that it is not true — Scotsman Fred Herd won the 1898 U.S. Open and never came close to winning another tournament of any kind — the golf gods got a chuckle out of spinning it nonetheless.
The way golf views things, it simply allowed Curtis to win the 2003 British Open so it could torment him thereafter. And that it did, making him wait another three years for his second and then third PGA Tour wins. Those victories earned the Kent State product respect among his peers. Never again would he be mentioned in the same breath as Shawn Micheel or Orville Moody, both of whom managed a major championship as their only career win on the tour. It is another of golf’s injustices that players such as Micheel suffer ridicule more than those who have never won anything. Golf gets the last laugh.
“There’s a reason golf is known for using every four-letter word in the vocabulary,” Curtis said yesterday after returning to his home near Kent, from San Antonio, where he won the Valero Texas Open on Sunday to end a six-year victory drought. “It comes up and bites you in the you-know-where, and won’t let go until you work yourself out of it.”
Golf goes something like this: One bad shot leads to one bad thought, which leads to one bad round ... one bad tournament ... one bad year. The unfairness is that one good shot does not end the downward spiral. It requires a series of properly executed drives and approach shots and confidence on the greens to alter the negative vibe.
Curtis has not been executing those requirements with enough deft touch. Instead, after winning the 84 Lumber Classic in 2006, he went almost six years without hoisting a trophy.
Until Sunday, that is. The 34-year-old who grew up golfing at Mill Creek, the Ostrander course operated by his family, silenced the mocking demons by winning in Texas by two shots, saving the title with a 22-foot putt for par at No. 17 and sealing it with a 12-foot birdie putt at No. 18. The win brought in $1,116,000, which is not chump change. More important, it includes a two-year tour exemption.Mostly, though, it slapped golf across the face, silencing the ghoul, if only for a moment. It is welcome relief to score the occasional reversal on a game that grinds you.
“Golf is such a momentum thing. You’re riding high, then it goes away, then it comes back,” Curtis said. “When you’re playing well, you just have to take advantage of it.”
Timing is everything, followed closely by perception. Before Sunday, Curtis had as many tour wins (three) as Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas, but most golf fans would never mention him in the same sentence as those two trendy “up-and-comers.” Suddenly, four wins places him only one behind tour studs Dustin Johnson and Luke Donald. Unlike those two top names, Curtis owns a major.
The magnitude of Sunday’s moment was not lost on Curtis, whose normally staid persona, which includes a dry humor verging on arid, went all wet eyes and borderline blubbering.
“I don’t know where it came from,” he said of the rare emotional display. “You don’t think you’r e that stressed out, but it had been six years. My wife (Candace) always said, ‘You’ll get through it and be fine.’ I don’t know if it was that, but it hits you that we did something pretty cool here this week.”
Curtis’ fellow pros were cool with it, too. Tweets of congratulations began immediately.
“There aren’t too many people I don’t get along with,” he said.
Golf being the rare exception. But then, this game disgusts everyone.
Rob Oller is a sports reporter for The Dispatch.
Fans who get into recruiting seem to be really excited about the commitment of Amedeo Della Valle. Some -- even me, in The Dispatch on Sunday -- have mentioned him in the same breath with Jon Diebler because the Buckeyes recruited Della Valle, above all else, for his ability to make three-point shots.
It's important here, though, to take a breath and not compare Della Valle the freshman to the Diebler we remember -- the senior.
Remember Diebler the freshman? He shot 28.9 percent from behind the three-point arc and 30.4 percent overall.
Hoops & Scoops
UPDATED 5:15 p.m.
South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill, who finished a weekend visit to Ohio State yesterday, committed to Virginia today. His father phoned me with the news earlier today.
Gill is a 6-foot-8, 235-pound power forward who will have three years of eligibility remaining after he sits out next season. The Buckeyes were hoping to plug him into that position if Deshaun Thomas left for the NBA after next season.
Another 2012 prospect who considered Ohio State, McDonald's All-American center-forward Tony Parker of Lithonia, Ga., announced today he will sign with UCLA. He chose the Bruins over the Buckeyes, Duke and Georgia.
Blogging the Buckeyes
The Blue Jackets are facing a summer of big decisions as they try to climb the ladder of NHL respectability. The first mammoth decision to be made -- ahead of where to trade Rich Nash, how to get a goaltender, whom to take with the No. 2 overall pick -- will likely be deciding on a coach.
Todd Richards still holds the interim tag and still has office space near the dressing room in Nationwide Arena. But Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has not yet decided if Richards will get the full-time gig, or if there will be a ninth head coach as the Blue Jackets head into their 12th season. (Here's a story published in today's editions of The Dispatch: http://www.bluejacketsxtra.com/content/stories/2012/04/22/is-richards-right-man-for-future.html )
Here's the boiled-down dilemma that Howson mulled in the back of his mind late last week as Tyler Wright, director of amateur scouting and amateur European tour guide, motored himself, Howson and senior adviser Craig Patrick through the small villages of the Czech Republic on their way to the Under-18 World Championships:
Clearly, Richards deserves some credit for the coaching job he did in the final 41 games of the season. The Blue Jackets still weren't good enough in the second half of the season -- they went 18-21-2 under Richards after an 11-25-5 start under previous coach Scott Arniel -- but Richards deserves some credit for lifting a season out of the depths of despair and creating an atmosphere in which the games were treated by the players as if they had some meaning. (If they'd played like that in the first 41 ... )
The finish under Richards only matters to a point, though. What Howson must consider is if Richards is the right guy for what lies ahead. The Blue Jackets have failed miserably when it comes to building a team and creating a winning culture. They have achieved the most distasteful trait in pro sports, which is that their sum is lesser than their parts. It has been like that for more than a few seasons now. The Jackets need a Krakatoa-like event to change their world.
Richards gets full marks for running the clean-up crew. But can he build? This is Howson's dilemma.
One need look no further than this year's Stanley Cup playoffs to see the mistakes that have been in this area. There's Ken Hitchcock coaching a weighty St. Louis Blues club into the second round. There's the Ottawa Senators, under Paul MacLean, and Florida Panthers, under former Jacket Kevin Dineen, making improbable runs to the post-season and scaring the bejeepers out of their opponents.
A big decision -- call in big decision No. 1 this summer -- is on the horizon.
-- Not big on informal, unscientific polls -- perhaps we should do more of them -- but we asked readers on Twitter to vote on the fate of Richards. They might be as conflicted as Howson is right now. We had 62 clear responses in the 20-minute voting window (several expressed certain thoughts, but did not clearly vote one way or another). Results: Yes, 29 (46.8 percent) No, 26 (40.3 percent) Undecided, 8 (12.8 percent).
-- Dispatch columnist Michael Arace has penned a piece of Monday's sheet about all the former Blue Jackets taking part, in one way or another, in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's always been a running Spring-time theme for Blue Jackets fans, but it's abundant this season.
-- Hitchcock can help his former franchise heading into the Blues' second-round matchup with the LA Kings, who knocked off No. 1 seed Vancouver. The Kings' first-round draft pick is currently No. 17. If they advance to the conference finals with a win over the Blues, the pick will fall to the Nos. 27-30 range depending on how the Final Four plays out. The Blue Jackets, who can take the Kings' first-round pick either this season or next season, would dearly love for it to remain at No. 17. Nothing guaranteed, but if the pick tumbles into the high 20s, there's a very good chance the Blue Jackets pass on it this season and bank on a much better pick next summer. However, the decision won't be known until June 22, when the first round of the draft takes place. The Blue Jackets do not need to inform the Kings of their desires with the pick until two picks before the Kings would be on the clock.
-- The 2013 NHL All-Star Game logo will be revealed on Friday at Nationwide Arena. Hearing Boomer is prominent.
-- Aaron Portzline