The Pro Sports Lull


This is the weekend of the Great Sports Lull.

Baseball is over, and the NBA hasn't begun.

College football has a dull weekend, and pro hockey has become even more confusing since realignment (did you notice?).

And it's the year of the kicker and the double-bye schedule in the NFL.

What in the name of Brent Musburger is going on here? Isn't there a Constitutional Amendment promising the American television-watcher at least one good sporting event a week?


OK, try this one on for size: the PGA's Tour Championship, held at the prestigious Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., finishes up Sunday afternoon on ABC. If you have some free time and an open mind, turn it on, and see what you think.

WHAT?! you scream. A bunch of elitist, corporate-sponsored jerks in long pants trying to whack a white ball into a little hole. And some people watch this on television and call it sport?

OK, this might only be an anecdote for the sports-starved who can't subsist on Nebraska-Colorado and Bruins-Blues for too long.

Televised golf isn't for everybody, and if you're the one who just can't get enough cleat-pounding and beer-advertising in one weekend, then read no more.

And no, John Daly, basically a linebacker disguised in a different line of Reebok-wear, won't be there to belt his 400-yard drives and wow the casual fan.

Maybe I'm tempting the baseball fan among you. Think about it--a 72-hole golf tournament is not unlike a miniature of baseball's 162-day pennant race. The drama builds, slowly at first, and then wildly as two, three, maybe four golfers charge down the stretch run with birdies and bogeys flying. Heck, the back nine on Sunday at The Masters can be an entire September's worth of dramatic moments.

Granted, this tournament isn't a major. But it is being played on a U.S. Open-caliber golf course, and as Harvard sophomore golfer and Olympic Club-member Jun Choo relates, this course tends to produce excitement at the finish.

"The Olympic Club comes down to two very easy holes that can have very large swings," he says. "The seventeenth is a reachable par-five that can be eagled, and eighteen is just a short par-four. But the greens have very severe slopes, so while they are both birdie holes, three-putts from five feet aren't uncommon."

Especially to win a golf tournament over the greatest golfers in the world. No no-names this week; the Tour Championship only invites the top 30 money winners from the 1993 season (sorry, Mr. Daly), and Player-of-the-Year honors is at stake between Greg Norman, Paul Azinger, and Nick Price. You can be sure the talent level will be high; witness Jim Gallagher's course-record 63 (eight-under par) yesterday.

But his first-round five-shot lead is about as safe as a San Francisco Giants five-game NL West lead in's not. Bad shots often beget more bad shots, and seemingly safe margins of error can quickly dissipate as repeated psychological blows take their toll (Kinda like the Giants losing eight in a row in September).

So, I hold that golf's great pennant races amongst the best talent the game can offer might tide the baseball nut over until pitchers and catchers report some 160 days from now.

And if you just love sports and want a change of pace, give ABC a try this Sunday.