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How a golf hater learned to the appreciate the game after a major

How a golf hater learned to the appreciate the game after a major

There’s a nervy energy to golf.

It’s akin to the closing minutes of a one-goal hockey game. That’s the only thing I can relate to on the course and the U.S. Senior Open had that feeling in its four-hole playoff this week in Newport.

Nervy energy? In a playoff for a major?

Yes, I understand that’s an obvious statement to golf enthusiasts. Welcoming the 156-man field to Rhode Island’s shore must have been a can’t-miss event for those New Englanders who anticipate warm days to enjoy their own round of 18.

But I’m not a golf guy. I leave the golf talk to colleagues Bill Koch and Eric Rueb.

That might change after watching Richard Bland best Hiroyuki Fujita with a bunker shot on 18 that nearly sunk for birdie at Newport Country Club. Bland tapped in for par and capped a two-day comeback after chasing Fujita throughout the tournament.

Bland was four shots behind Fujita entering Sunday and three straight birdies to start the day made it possible. Rain halted Sunday’s coronation till Monday and Bland finished the extra day on top. And I loved it.

I was running the 18th fairway, literally, during the playoff to capture videos. That’s just what you have to do when every shot matters. In the unlikely scenario that one of the players shanked his drive and couldn’t recover, or drilled one perfectly, we had to have that on video. Koch was stationed on the 18th green, so we weren’t going to miss anything at the pin.

I was behind Bland for his third shot from the bunker as I recorded his attempt at birdie and had no idea that he nearly sunk it. I only saw, and heard, the crowd reaction for what ended up being the shot of the tournament. And I had to stay behind the bunker because Fujita was trying to match the shot from distance. (Shot from distance is basketball or hockey verbiage, but that’s OK).

Richard Bland signs for a Newport Country Club worker after winning the 44th U.S. Senior Open.

I didn’t see where Bland’s shot landed until later in the day. In hindsight, my Tweet, which simply states — “Bland out of the bunker on 18 draws an applause” — was hilariously mundane as the Englishman effectively won the tournament with that shot.

I did learn some golf jargon, though. Newport is very linksy. I had to Google that during Wednesday’s practice round. And rain helps the ball sit on the green. Getting “up-and-down” was thrown around a few times last week, still don’t know what that entails because the football guy in me…


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