Tiger vs Colton: Uncanny

Late Saturday afternoon on a beautiful public course. Strapping golfer comes back from long lay-off, looks a little rusty but shows glimpses of that same magic. Somehow wills an eagle putt into hole, followed by numerous fist pumps.

Sound familiar? Tiger Woods at Torrey, right? Nope. Try Jim Colton at Cantigny.

The former, of course, was during the third round of the US Open. The latter was during the third annual Colton Father-Son-Grandson invitational (at the site of another USGA national championship - the 2007 US Pub Links.)

The former, of course, is yet another remarkable shot in Tiger's quest to catch Jack's 18 professional majors (it was always 20 when I was growing up...including Jack's 2 US Am's. Don't get me started). The latter is eagle #19 in the life of Jim Colton, matching arch-nemesis Jefe in Colton's quest to beat Jefe in anything and everything golf related (he still has me on number of courses).

[Note to Jack: Tiger is better than you. Deal with it. Stop carping about the lack of competition today and the golf ball.]

The former, of course, comes after a two-plus month lay-off from knee surgery. The latter comes after six months of crummy Chicago weather and two months of six-year old t-ball. (Speaking of Tiger's left knee, has their ever been more attention paid to an athlete's body part? The only things that comes close in recent memory are Chris Duhon's ribs during the 2004 NCAA tournament and Anna Kournakova's, um...Kournakovas.)

[Note to NBC: A super slo-mo close-up on Tiger's left knee while he swings looks just like every other pant leg during a golf swing I've ever seen. This segment showed and proved nothing on Saturday, yet NBC went back to the well with the same thing during the final round Sunday. Of course, I could say the same thing about the trio of Bob Costas, Curtis Strange and Peter Jacobsen. Is it just me or were those Lincoln Sports Reports incredibly awkward?]

I know what you're thinking. "Wow, I've never really thought about it that way, but the similarities between Tiger and Colton are downright uncanny. Aside from the Ashworth shirts instead of Nike, the guy is the lefty Tiger. Oh yeah, that and the 50-yards difference off the tee, the 150 pounds difference in the bench press, the 13 (let's call it 14) majors, the $80 million difference in salary and the $400 million difference in net worth. They are pratically the same dude."

Just when you were asking yourself the question, "Have I ever seen Tiger and Colton in the same room at the same time?", Tiger had to go and three-up me with that chip-in on 17, eagle putt on 18 Saturday, then the curl-in, willed-it-into-the hole putt to force the playoff on 18 Sunday. Thanks a lot, Tiger.

However, from my perspective, Tiger's heroics were just the icing on the cake to an already incredible and unbelievably memorable Father's Day weekend. Our annual Father's Day outing is the only day of the year where I can get my Dad to dust off his sticks and join me on the golf course. He plays with 25-year old clubs and a 40-year old one-iron off the tee that Tiger probably couldn't even hit off the sweet spot. I've tried to tell him that driver technology has advanced quite a bit since the days of persimmon. My old man is the most honest man I've ever met, to the point I remember being absolutely floored when I once saw him turn left at an intersection that was 'right turn only'. No matter how bad it gets, he counts all his strokes and plays every ball into the hole (Remarkably, he shot a 75. For nine holes.) My Dad taught me there's only one to play: the right way. You play by the rules and you play to win. Of course, I took this all for granted until I started to have kids of my own. Earl Woods ain't got nothing on the Big Dogg.

If you had June 14th in the 'Date of Jim Colton's First Round of the Season Office Pool', I know you're lying. Normally, I would've played dozens of rounds by now, but not this year. Due to a number of different factors, I've pretty much entered golf semi-retirement. After my Rich Harvest debacle last year, I realized that I've been beating myself up for really no apparent reason. All the practice and time spent for what? To be the 2,000,000th-ranked golfer in the world (2-handicap purgatory, as I like to call it)? How does that make any sense when you have a 6-year old, 4-year old and 11-month old at home that think you are the single coolest guy on the planet?

Essentially, I've traded quantity for quality. Quantity in terms of massive number of rounds per year in exchange of quality rounds of golf in terms of courses and the guys I'm playing with. I've decided to still go on the annual trip with the Tang Brothers, because it simply wouldn't be the same without me. Besides, what good is a golf blog if you're not playing any golf? And Jimbo isn't nearly as effective at needling Jefe as I am. We're going back to Northern Michigan this year and have some sweet courses lined up. I'm going to pick and choose where I play and where I decide to just needle Jefe.

Plus, Jefe and I somehow managed to weasel our way to one of the premiere new private clubs in the country for a weekend at the end of June. Stay tuned because it's going to be awesome. Just to give you an indication, I've already got this course penciled into my top three. We're playing with the reigning club champion and current course record holder, so I hope to get out at least one more time prior to the trip as to not completely embarass myself.

Usually, the first round of the year is an ugly affair where I top the ball for at least the first 6-7 holes before getting my rhythm and timing. Breaking 100 is a legitimate goal. But something strange happened at Cantigny. Despite nothing more than 10 minutes on the putting green as a warm-up, no range balls, no nothing, I stepped up to the first tee box on the Woodside nine at busted a sweet draw around the dogleg, hit a gap wedge onto the green and two-putted for a routine par. Second hole, 530 yard par 5 I crush a drive about 330 down the middle (wind aided), have 200 left to the flag over water and I hit a towering 7-iron perfectly to the green to about 15 feet from the pin. Then I casually roll the bad boy in, center cut, never a doubt, just like Tiger's two eagle putts where you knew they were in with about six feet left to go. Just like last season at World Woods, two holes into the season and I'm already in red numbers. This game is too easy!

Of course, I came back down to Earth later in the round, including a triple-bogey, double-bogey combo on 7 & 8 en route to a 5-over 41. But it couldn't derail what was, all-in-all, a perfect day on the golf course.

Want to grow a kid's love for the game? Just let him whack a bunch of balls into the water. Bonus points for bounces off boulders.

He's the Big Dogg and he's got the hat to prove it.

Just look at that left knee!!!


  1. Sandi said...:

    Great pics! My nephew is adorable. :D

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