I was watching Ben Curtis win the Valero Texas Open yesterday and the thought went through my head that he was a “surprise” winner. He had not won since the Booz Allen tournament in June 2006. The surprise about the lack of wins between 2006 and 2012 is fueled by the fact that Curtis is a “Major” winner (he won the British Open at Royal St. George in 2003.) Curtis won just a few years after turning pro and then did not live up to the expectations of a “Major” winner. Expectations that now Bubba Watson will have to live up to in the coming years.
But was Ben Curtis the biggest surprise? If we look at the LPGA tour, we could list the fact that Yani Tseng did not win (she finished tied for 10th at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii.) But it is not a big surprise to me because I may just be the one person on the planet that does not believe Tseng will win every tournament she enters.
Is the bigger surprise the fact that Michelle Wie missed the cut again (making it three missed cuts in a row?) I don’t think so. She has missed three in a row in previous years. The expectation some folks had that she would come out of Standford University and suddenly be great was ridiculous. Every top golfer in the world talks about the focus it takes to be at the top of their game. Wie is struggling because she has not been focused on golf in the last few years and it is clearly showing on the course. Give her time to get mentally “back into the game.”
I think maybe the biggest surprise for me this week was not how well or poorly a professional golfer played; but the announcement that the site selected for the golf course for the 2016 Olympics is under a land dispute in Rio. According to an Associated Press article it threatens the ability for the golf course to be ready because if they can’t use the land, they have to start from scratch for the golf course design. This is a big deal given the designer has stated plans to “break ground” in October 2012.
The article goes on to say that “Elmway Participacoes has been trying to claim ownership of the land for the past three years.” Really? You would think the city/organizers of the Olympics would not pick a plot of land that someone has been trying to claim ownership of for three years. But who knows what is really going on behind closed doors. But the article also stated that this is not the first time a land dispute caused delays for another major sporting event (world soccer) in Brazil.
Bottom line, I want to see my favorite sport in the Summer Olympics — after all, the last time it was part of the Olympics was 1906 — and I would hate to see “a land dispute” keep it from happening. Let’s hope the golf course designer, Gil Hanse, doesn’t face too many more surprises.