Musings and Mulligans

Roy Lang III is The Times Assistant Sports Editor. He played golf at Centenary College. He has covered six major golf championships and also covered last year’s Ryder Cup. As an added bonus, both Hal Sutton and David Toms are on his speed-dial.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sunday full of fantastic finishes

So much for U.S. Open hangover.

Just seven days after Michael Campbell's improbable victory at Pinehurst, major shockwaves were sent across the golf world.

First, the women.

If Birdie Kim was an American golfer, her unbelieveable bunker shot on the final hole of the U.S. Women's Open would go down as the most miraculous of all-time. Instead, it is being perceived as quite a letdown. That is because American sweethearts Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lang were left to pick up the pieces from the amazing birdie by Birdie.

The hopes of American women's golf don't just ride on one girls shoulders. Michelle Wie has plenty of company.

Lang, Pressel, Wie, Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis ... the list goes on. They all seem capable. And, oh by the way, they are all marketable. They have the looks and the game -- just what the LPGA Tour has been looking for.

But congrats to Birdie. She can't speak English well, but she orchestrated one of the best shots in all of major championship history.

Now to the men ...

I have to admit I spent my Sunday morning and early afternoon witnessing the train wreck that was once again Jean Van de Velde.

For the second time in six years, I was rooting for this guy. For the second time I found myself screaming at the flippin TV.

Van de Velde and fellow Frenchman Jean-Francois Remesy took part in a spectacular duel in the Open de France.

Van de Velde played flawlessly on Sunday and took a one-stroke lead into the 72nd hole. Then disaster struck, just as it did at the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie.

Van de Velde hit his drive in the water while Remesy forced a playoff with a solid par.

On the first playoff hole, Van de Velde sent his approach shot sailing over the 18th green. But Remesy hit his iron short of the green, giving Van de Velde life.

But Van de Velde couldn't escape from a nasty lie behind the green after his penalty drop and came out on the short end of a thrilling event.

Ok, Rob Akins I admit it, Padraig Harrington has some game. A conversation between David Toms, Akins (Toms' instructor) and myself at the U.S. Open last week somehow turned to who we thought was overrated.

Akins said Michael Campbell was, but one day later he won the Open. We gave him hell for it, but little did I know it would come back to haunt me.

I had stated that I thought Harrington was racking up world ranking points in Europe and should not have been ranked in the top 10 in the world. Toms and Akins disagreed.

What does Harrington do, but sink a bomb on the 18th hole to defeat Jim Furyk at Westchester on Sunday.

Good grief.

It was an incredibly exciting weekend of golf. No it wasn't Pinehurst, but the event still provided plenty of drama. Who knows what's in store at the Western Open outside of Chicago this week!

The following week I know what's in store. A Michelle Wie media circus. Bust out the big top, because she's playing the John Deere Classic. Toms is slated to play in the event, too.