Teed Off

When he made a bogey on the 18th hole of the 101st United States Open last Sunday, Mark Brooks blew it.

When he missed a bogey on the 18th hole of the 101st United States Open last Sunday, Stewart Cink also blew it... but we didn't expect it to matter that much, so it didn't seem so bad.

When he made a bogey on the 18th hole of the 101st United States Open last Sunday, Retief Goosen blew it too. Turns out, though, that his blow rather unblew Brooks blow, while simultaneously blowing-up Cink's to gargantuan proportions.

If all of this confuses you, don't worry - it should. It's golf.

Golf: the most frustrating, silly, intricate, difficult, waste-of-time game ever.

And - unfortunately - also the most addicting.

Not only to play, but also to watch... especially when you get to witness a comedy of errors like the one (or, three, to be exact) that occurred on the final hole of the final round of the biggest tournament in the world, the U.S. Open. Something as uncommon and freakish as catching Janet Reno smiling.

Here's how it worked.

Brooks teed off the par-4 final hole with a score of 5-under, which made him the co-leader. Brooks then managed to reach the green in just two shots, but he didn't manage to putt the ball in until three shots after that. His three-putt bogey dropped him to 4-under and made him look silly.

Following Brooks in the final twosome of the day, Cink and Goosen also teed off 18th at 5-under par for the tournament. Cink needed three shots to reach the green, his third being a chip from the rough at the left side of the putting surface. Goosen, however, reached the green in two shots, like Brooks, so he simply needed to two-putt from 15 feet away to make par and tie or win.

Cink's near-miss for par (his fourth shot) told Goosen that a two-putt would indeed win it for him outright. A sick Cink, thinking he was sunk, then proceeded to miss his bogey putt and finished at 3-under par (but no one thought this would be a factor, believing that Goosen would never three-put from a free throw line away).

Still confused? Apparently so was Goosen.

Instead of playing it safe and lagging (leaving the ball short so as to set oneself up for a easy second putt along the same line), Goosen, the soft-spoken South African, blasted his first putt past the hole. The crowd muttered, the announcers whispered louder than usual in disbelief. Goosen then goosed his second putt, and it skidded right of the cup. This was the precise thing that Cink had done minutes before, and it made Goosen look silly for blowing a 'gimme' putt that would have given him the win. Cink suddenly looked silly now too, as his earlier miss took him out of the chance for an 18-hole playoff the following day.

Now, the pressure was really on Goosen. Forget about a victory; he had to make this putt to save his butt and tie him with Brooks, who, watching this debacle unfold on TV, had all but collected his third place check for $325,000 and left the golf course.

Goosen lined up, stroked, and watched the ball roll into the cup. (Tie ball game, playoff the next day - which Goosen wound up winning).


I don't know about you, but I was hoping he'd miss it... because it would have made me feel much better.

Because I'm worn-out with routine, 300-yard tee shots. Because I'm bored with blasts out of sand traps that bounce their merry way all the way into the hole.

Because I'm tired of Tiger Woods and his like making it look easy.


And because the day before, I went out and shot a 55... on 9 holes. I flopped around several greens like a mackerel, three-putting here, four-putting there - and getting angry everywhere. And unlike the guys playing under a microscope in the Open, I had no pressure on me - except that my 13-year-old kid brother and I had a Blizzard on the line. But I wasn't even worried about that, because he regularly filets me.

So, on Sunday I'm sitting there watching the Open, gawking over how good those guys are. Then, I recall how poorly I played the day before (and every other time before that), and I slowly start stewing because I realize I'll never be that good... at anything. Jealously sets in (hey, I'm a guy), and I start hoping that everyone screws up. Because if I'm not any good in golf, I don't want anyone to be. (Another guy thing.)

And for one hole, for a while, nobody was any good at golf - at least on the green. Professional golfers, turns out, are (very rich, sometimes normal) human. The world was astounded; I was ecstatic.

And itching to get out there and slap that stupid little white ball around another 55 times. I had a new level of patience and appreciation for the game - figuring (with golf math) that if three pros three-putt the final hole to blow their chances at winning the Open outright, I should give myself nine putts (or so) before I blow my stack next time.


Tree Huggers Rejoice!

There's no need to tie yourself to these trees.

The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and Kentucky Natural Lands Trust announced June 16 that a second key old-growth tract of Blanton Forest in Harlan is now secure.

A hundred years ago, forests similar to Blanton Forest covered the Appalachian region. Since then, 95 percent have been damaged or degraded. (Feeling guilty about the hundreds of pages you've printed off the internet but have since thrown away?)

KSNPC and KNLT plan to protect the land from outside disturbances, encouraging research and opening the forest to the local community and visitors with hiking trails.

Guess you'll just have to put the rope away and save yourself for the next good cause that comes along. -Loree Stark

Where's the Beef?

Several groups have banded together to let Agriculture Secretary Ann Venemen know how angry they are about animal slaughtering.

They aren't opposed to it by any means. They just think it should be more humane.

The Humane Farming Association, the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, Public Citizen and five other groups delivered a petition on June 13 to Veneman requesting her to take immediate action to enforce the Humane Slaughter Act.

The HSA, which was passed by Congress in 1958, requires that all slaughter animals must be humanely handled and "stunned" before being hoisted up on the production line. The protesting groups maintain that, in slaughterhouses around the country, animals are alive and fully conscious while being dragged, skinned, dismembered and scalded. -LS

1 Million Pets,
1 Million Homes

Free food. Free haircuts. Free hugs.

What could be better? (Subquestion: How do I get in on this deal?)

Elsie, a two-year-old black retriever mix, was the millionth pet adopted from PETsMART's national in-store adoption centers. And, as you might have guessed, she was adopted right here in Lexington. The Bradford family stopped in PETsMART on Wednesday, June 6 and purchased Elsie after five-year-old Annie had saved her allowance for nine months to adopt a pet. PETsMART awarded the Bradford's milestone purchase by giving Elsie a lifetime supply of pet food, grooming and training for life. –LS

Artsy Fartsy

It turns out Kentucky isn't recognized solely for basketball, tobacco and horses after all.

Kentucky was one of only 13 state arts councils in the nation selected for an arts needs assesment grant from the Wallace-Reader's Digest Funds for a State Arts Partnership for Cultural Participation (START).

The results of the $500,000 grant will likely give Kentucky's cultural centers tools and other opportunities to further cultural experiences in the state, such as training staff members on modern arts marketing techniques. -LS