As they say, deaths of famous people always come in “3’s”. And so it was in the professional golf community when three big figures of the sport succumbed in just the past couple weeks: Billy Casper (Feb. 7/83 years), Kel Nagle (Jan. 29/94 years) and Charlie Sifford (Feb. 3/92 years).
Casper was known as one of, if not the best putter of his age. And as putting is such a large component of the game, mastering it tends to translate into success – and Casper had plenty of it in his prime during the 1960s and 70s. He won 51 times on the PGA tour including two U.S. Opens and a Masters tournament. He also won the Vardon Trophy five times for posting the lowest average scores, and was a Ryder Cup member eight times. His highlight came in the 1966 U.S. Open when he overcame a deficit of seven strokes with nine holes to play to tie the legendary Arnold Palmer, forcing an 18 hole playoff the next day which he nailed after Palmer carded an ignoble 40 on the back nine.
Not a household name, Charlie Sifford ranks among the likes of Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson for breaking down race barriers in competitive sports. As the first black man to infiltrate and succeed in the pro ranks of the quintessential white mans’ game – a fortress surrounded by racial barbed wire even more impregnable than baseball or track & field – Sifford withstood taunts and threats on and off the course. He never let such shit distract him though, winning twice on the tour in the late 1960s in Hartford and LA. Like Robinson and countless other black athletes who were consigned to playing in “Negro” leagues, Sifford spent his best years playing in a cordoned-off area of the United Golf Association’s tournaments, winning the National Negro Open five years running starting in 1952.
Just last year, confined to a wheelchair, Sifford was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Tiger Woods often noted Sifford’s ground-breaking courage that paved the way for his own ascent to the pinnacle of golf.
And speaking of recent golf-related deaths, might we add Tiger’s own game to the list? Once considered invincible, the man who would surpass Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major tournament wins, Tiger has been stuck at 14 majors since the 2008 U.S. Open. In between then and now, Woods has suffered debilitating injuries – the worst being self-inflicted. Skipping a good deal of competition as of late in the hopes of recovering from physical ailments, Woods returned last week to competition only to put up his worst professional score ever (an 82 at Torrey Pines) and then drop out the next day after 11 holes due to back trouble. Just the other day Woods announced he was taking an extended hiatus until he can play without embarrassing himself.
Ten years ago the question was how far would Woods surpass Nicklaus’s record, then five years ago the question was whether Woods would surpass the record at all. Three years ago the question was whether Tiger would win just one more major. And today the question is whether he’ll ever win another golf tournament.
My succinct prediction: RIP Tiger Woods’s golf game.
Who Said it?
In the course of reading a lengthy article about a famous dead American leader, I came to learn he wrote the following observations about Jews. Can you guess who he was? Hint: It wasn’t Henry Ford who was also a big-time anti-Semite. Answer at the end of the blog.
“the greatest stinking bunch of humanity I have ever seen.”
“these people do not understand toilets and refuse to use them except as repositories for tin cans, garbage, and refuse.”
“lost to all decency.”
“lower than animals.”
End Note – Fuck you Microsoft
In the middle of penning this blog, Microsoft decided it was high time to forcibly shut down my laptop so some urgent bug patches could be applied to their shitty Windows 7 operating system. Although this intrusion has become almost routine, it still comes as a surprise when you forget to postpone the action every couple of hours.
As a long-time abused user of Microsoft products, I assert they spent years and treasure defending their monopolistic hegemony by tying all their products into a single spaghetti-ball of “integrated” code rather than attending to the fundamental security and integrity of their operating system. And because of their misguided actions, most of the world must now suffer the scourge of spam, ransomware, bots, phishing expeditions, and lethargic 1980s-level of system performance on their super-fast 21st century hardware.
So once again I say – Fuck you Microsoft.
The Mystery anti-Semite is —
General George Patton.