Grant Me This: It feels good to laugh again
After needing a box full of Kleenex near his computer while writing his tribute to Darren Clarke's late wife, Heather, earlier this week, PGA.com's Grant Boone is glad to back to the business of making us smile.
By Grant Boone, Special to PGA.com
Before I forget, let me say thanks to everyone who responded to the piece I wrote on the death of Darren Clarke's wife, Heather. I quit counting after the first hundred, but I promise I've read them all. Many of you thanked me for being vulnerable, though it's you I should thank for sharing with me your very personal stories of pain, loss, grief, healing, survival, endurance, and even finding joy at a later station in life. I was touched by your testimony and blessed by your encouragement.
Now, on to the sophomoric humor and a look back at day one of the PGA Championship.
I spent all day at Medinah and learned the wisdom of that age-old golf axiom that says, "You can't win the championship on Thursday, but you can see Verne Lundquist naked." I'm on the air all week for TNT, PGA.com, and AOL Broadband, and this morning, we made history with the very first live stream of a major championship telecast. Our motto: "If you're not lazy enough to skip work to watch this tournament, we'll bring it to your office." It's pointless to resist.
Prior to the TNT telecast/netcast, I anchored 90 minutes of bonus coverage with Bobby Clampett and Bill Kratzert exclusively for viewers of PGA.com. Years from now, economists will debate why productivity dipped 726 percent nationwide during these two business days. I invite you to turn on, tune in, and drop out Friday at 11:30 a.m. CDT right here on PGA.com. Look for the video pipeline called Greenside Live with the TNT logo and check us out. In addition, we're doing coverage of each group coming through the par 3s, as well as following selected groups from start to finish. Should be enough to distract you all day.
It was a privilege to warm the anchor chair up for Lundquist, one of the great voices in American sportscasting for the last 25 years and a guy whom history seems to keep handy. Was he at 17 when Nicklaus rolled in the clinching birdie at the 1986 Masters? "Yes, sir!" He was rinkside in Lillehammer when Nancy Kerrigan came back from getting Gilloolyed to win silver at the '94 Olympics: "She seized the moment and made it her own." And just last year at Augusta National, Lundquist watched Tiger create the most memorable major championship shot of the last 20 years, the How's It Hangin' birdie pitch at 16: "In your life, have you ever seen anything like it?!"
Ironically, that's what I was asking myself a little before 1 p.m. as Lundquist changed from his golf shirt into a coat and tie in the tower at 18 as I was wrapping up my show and preparing to hand off to him. For those of you who've enjoyed Lundquist's belly laughs and dulcet tones through the years, you'll be glad to know he's even warmer in person. In a figurative sense.
The golf itself lived up to its billing, by and large. The marquee group of Woods-Mickelson-Ogilvy delivered with each shooting 69, a perfectly acceptable first-round-of-a-major score. Olin Browne slamdunked his tee shot for an ace at 17, then reared back and let out a blood-curdling, Tarzan shriek that was still echoing off the oak trees when I left the course.
Davis Love III made VI at that same 17th to fall from 7 under to minus-4. One of those whacks was a whiff from the heavy rough behind the green, which cost him the lead but endeared him to a gallery full of Cubs fans who've seen a summer full of swings and misses. He left the 17th wearing the expression he's made famous, the one that looks like you've just walked into his room in the middle of the night and turned the lights on. Love's labor wasn't totally lost; he still shot 68 and trailed Lucas Glover and Chris Riley by two.
With apologies to the co-leaders, the round of the day belonged to Billy Mayfair, who returned from testicular cancer surgery two weeks ago and played his first 11 holes in 6 under to take the lead before understandably losing steam down the stretch and finishing with a still-astounding 69. If you think I would stoop so low as to make a wisecrack here, you're nuts. Mayfair himself, though, joked that the lump which scared him into the doctor's office was "the size of two Titleists." After golf's summer of sadness, it was good to be able to laugh again.
Grant Boone is a husband, father, golf broadcaster, and sports journalist based in Abilene, Texas. His column appears on PGA.com each Wednesday and every day during major championships and other big events. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views and opinions expressed here do not reflect those of PGA.com or The PGA of America.