Major power outage
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

Remember golf before Tiger?

Faceless guys in forgettable clothes making the occasional birdie for TV audiences with ratings on par with the tape-delayed broadcast of the World Lumberjack Olympics?

Yes! Just like this weekend's PGA Championship! Very good, dweller. Move to the head of The Cooler classroom.

Shaun Micheel
Shaun Micheel knows a thing or two about heroics.
Listen. I was greenside for Shaun Micheel's 7-iron and it was the prettiest thing I've seen since a desert sunset while on peyote.

All I'm saying is, without Micheel's historic 7-iron to two inches to win, the Shaun Micheel-Chad Campbell duel had all the excitement, drama and buzz level of the Rochester Muni Senior Ladies 'D' flight club championship/Canasta marathon, held every other Saturday in the spring.

Take it from a witness. I walked the front nine with the guys, and if you harnessed the electricity of the gallery and put it to use during last Thursday's Great Blackout, well ... you still would have had a Great Blackout.

With, like, maybe one votive candle flickering in the breeze in addition to the Great Blackout.

I think golf likes legends, and eventually, Micheel provided a legendary shot.

But until then, I heard fans yelling, "Go, Shaun ... at least I think that's Shaun."

Swear to God, heard two fans near the 5th green in a brief verbal tussle: "That's Campbell, right there."

"No, that's Campbell.

"Wait, in the dark hat?"

"They're both in dark hats."

"So that's Micheel. OK."

You half-wanted to strip the name tags off the back of the caddies' bibs and put 'em on Micheel and Campbell.

Nice guys? Absolutely. Great finish? Micheel's shot may be the most clutch golf shot in the history of major championships.

But for 15 holes? Wow. Get out the EMT paddles.

Micheel's claim to fame was jumping into a lake to save a drowning elderly couple from a sinking car. On Sunday, he made a figurative jump near Lake Erie to save the year's last major.

Somebody put out an APB for Tiger's game in major championships. We miss the Red Shirt. Fans miss the Red Shirt. Shaun Micheel and Chad Campbell may not miss the Red Shirt, but part of the reason Micheel won $1.08 million on Sunday is because of the Red Shirt's influence on purses.

Now, enough kvetching from this corner. Somebody tell Shaun Micheel to cuddle up next to that Wanamaker Trophy and sleep for a week with a smile on his mug. Which, remarkably, looks like Chad Campbell's mug, which gets us back to the topic at hand and ... never mind.

On to the Weekend List of Five:

1. Phil for King
When I die, I want to come back as Phil Mickelson between the ropes.

Where else can I get an ocean of unconditional love and a legions of humans willing to lay down their pride and bow to me as I merely strut their way?

Phil Mickelson
The love Phil receives leaves us scratching our heads.
Dweller, I don't get it. I mean, I understand the Mickelson Oh-fer streak in majors can engender some sort of empathy on a basic level.

Empathy is one thing. Beatlemania is another.

I happened to be walking behind Lefty as he made his way to the first tee on Friday. He was the co-owner of the first round lead, only the gallery at Rochester didn't know.

They thought he was Woodrow Wilson down the Champs d'Elysees in '17 after signing the treaty of Versailles.

They thought he was Cesar Chavez in a grape field in Salinas in '65, coming to give solidarity to the manual laborer.

They thought he was Lech Walesa in Poland in '81, Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi in '47, Muhammad Ali in Africa in '74.

Lef-ty Boom-ay eh

The cheering. Jesus, the cheering!

And what has Phil done to earn this outpouring of love? Well, he's touched his visor. He's smiled. He's given them a somewhat vacant look all the while.

And they swoon.

Like bobby-soxers for Sinatra in '41.

Damndest thing. Mystery of the universe.

2. Minor League Ball: A Boss Experience
Had the distinct pleasure of catching the Rochester Red Wings-Pawtucket Red Sox Triple-A tilt at homey Frontier Field in lovely downtown Rochester while in town; and I must say, minor league ball remains one of the great Americana experiences this culture can produce.

Being media scum and expecting to be feted and styled, myself and four other scribes were given freebies three rows behind the dish. Of course. We'd settle for nothing less. After all, we'd paid nothing for the ducats.

How did we repay the generosity? By heckling our guts out.

Kevin Youkilis
Beware of Beane.
Up came PawSox minor-league newsmaker Kevin Youkilis, the player with the on-base percentage that gives A's general manager Billy Beane nocturnal fantasies. We know this because Beane's hagiographer, Michael Lewis, told us so in "Moneyball" -- that A's management calls Youkilis the "Greek God of walks."

Cute. Except Youkilis was hitting a Buck-Five when we saw him, so we took the occasion to remind him quite loudly that he is, actually, the "GREEK GOD OF INTERSTATES."

When he took a pitch on the corner that got called a ball, we took the opportunity to blast the ump for believing the hype. "BE YOUR OWN MAN, BLUE," one of us yelled.

Meanwhile, we fell in love with the home nine. The unfortunately-named Grant Balfour was pitching for the 'Wings, and it didn't take long for us to notice the guy had electric stuff. He pitched in some bad luck, and wound up getting the loss. The next day, we were furious to read a Rochester Democrat and Chronicle game story that said Balfour "was no help" to Rochester. I wanted to do like so many ballplayers do to us scribes and sneer, "What game were you watching, pal?" We had developed a fierce affinity for Balfour and the 'Wings, mostly because Frontier Field does not cut off beer sales after the seventh inning. Nine innings of lager, baby.

Three days later, sweet justice: Grant Balfour got called to the big club in Minnesota.

We're already nostalgic for his days in the Rochester red.

3. Living the Blackout
Also got a chance to experience the Great Blackout of '03, which produced a rally mentality that was heartwarming and inspiring. At least, I thought it was. At my shoddy lodging in outer Rochester, the workers busted hump to buy flashlights for every guest, and quickly set up a bar in the lobby by candlelight, with tons of ice in buckets chilling beer and wine. Delighted, I placed an order for a couple of cold ones to take the edge off. Her face flickering near the candelabra, my heretofore sweet front desk worker spoke in the darkness: "Six dollars, please."

Nothing like a little capitalism to crush the We're-All-in-This-Together buzz.

I split for the downtown media hotel, which had lights. When I returned to my place six hours later, the lights were on, all signs of the bar had vanished and flashlights were now being sold for 10 bucks a pop. Community spirit: Total mirage, dwellers.

4. Sweat: The Untold Story of the PGA Championship
I defy a sporting event -- short of a state high school wrestling match in a 90-degree gym -- to produce the Erie Canal-sized volume of sweat that a PGA Championship in Rochester, N.Y. begets.

I'm talking players, writers, fans. Sweat, sweat, sweat. We could have renamed those anonymous leaders the Sweathogs; and come to think of it, Barbarino, Epstein, Washington and Horshack would fit quite well against Micheel, Campbell, Cejka and Clark. Gabe Kaplan on the bag? I see this working out.

Tiger Woods
Is Tiger wiping sweat or tears?
Anyway, back to the sweat.

Back sweat. Leg sweat. Forearm sweat.

They said it was 87 degrees, with 80-percent humidity, and I'm thinking the PGA Championship, always held in the unforgiving swelter of mid-August in the heartland, should see if it can move the 2004 event to someplace a tad cooler. Say, the planet Mercury.

The best effect was the sweat on the silky, pristine shirts sported by Tour pros. Something about the shiny fabric made the continent-shaped sweat stains into a veritable psychological ink-blot test.

Doctor: What do you see in the sweat stains of Hal Sutton's shirt?

Patient: I see the profile of an old lady, and two butterflies mating.

Doctor: I see. Take two of these pills, and call me in the morning.

Dweller, what do you want? I come from the fog belt.

Now I feel like Homer Simpson. Mmmmm. Fog.

5. Massive Apology to All Dwellers
I come to you, dear reader, tie-dye shirt in hand, water tobacco pipe -- as they euphemistically say -- in the other.

Of course Phil Lesh played bass for the Grateful Dead.

Last week's Cooler stating otherwise was nothing more than a gaffe, a gack, an error of the highest order. Bucknerian, really.

And to think, I lived in the Haight-Ashbury for seven years!

I'd like to blame a contact high, but the fact is, the memory of the Dead barely lingers there. There's a freaking Gap -- a Gap, OK? -- on the corner of Haight and Ashbury now. The trickle-down effect is a watering down of the legend, and errors such as last week's.

To think, our corner market featured two massive color murals: One of Marley, the other of Jerry.

Man, this just gets worse for me, doesn't it?

We move on together, then, dwellers, stronger for the experience.

Now, go hear Uncle John's band and enjoy your week, would you?

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.



Brian Murphy Archive

Murphy: Muscles to the Statehouse

Murphy: Study hall open

Murphy: I love Wimbledon

Murphy: TigerSpeak 101

Murphy: On a hot streak

Murphy: Anti-rocket fuel

Murphy: Going, going ... boring

Murphy: Raising a Tiger

Murphy: Fandemonium

Murphy: Life imitating art

Murphy: Masters of our domain

Murphy: Somebody has to lose

Murphy: Welcome to Cooler Day!

Murphy: Spring is in the air

Murphy: Here's to Ew

Murphy: A barren wasteland

Murphy: Tiger gets his Phil

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