Chillin' to the Euro beat
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

MUIRFIELD, Scotland -- Live, from Muirfield ... The Cooler has gone Euro.

Now. No worries. This does not mean the music will be techno-only. This does not mean we are foregoing shower pressure for a fine mist. This does not mean we will wear nothing but black socks with shorts; nor will we make the dentistry industry bankrupt with our steadfast refusal to patronize their profession.

Ernie Els
As much as Ernie Els downplays his own ability, the guy definitely has mad game.
Euro clichés, you say?

Of course! But I have two answers to that: One, cliches are rooted in truth, and two, I'm not that creative to think of other complaints.

And really, while we're on it, what's with the shower thing? I mean, what is the downside of the kick-butt, jetstreamed, piping hot, spacious shower? What is with the failure to embrace a small part of American culture that is actually valuable and worthwhile?

(By the way, suspicious that I've been on that rant before, I just checked into my archived columns and saw that, indeed, after last year's British Open, I wasted a half-baked line on shower pressure in Europe. This is what you call your basic "Red Flag" when it comes to editors assessing columnists who are losing their fastball.)

Besides, I love everything else about Europe -- or, specifically, the United Kingdom, where The Cooler, all week, was propped up in the press tent cafeteria at Muirfield watching Ernie Els win a British Open -- despite a self-loathing campaign all week from Ernie to make Woody Allen look like John Wayne.

(Side note: What's with The Big Easy's woe-is-me thing? This cat has more game than Milton and Bradley. The swing brings tears to my eyes -- or maybe that's just a fine Scottish mist. His hands are soft, his length off the tee enormous. He had two majors before this one, and he talks like he's Ian Baker-Finch. If Ernie feels that way about his game, how is my seriously-high handicapped butt supposed to feel about mine? I might as well heave the clubs into the Firth of Forth. Thanks for the pick-me-up, Ernie.)

The British Open rules. Here's what I love about it: The courses in the Open rotation are more true to the sport's history and soul. The galleries are, thankfully, highly civilized. The sun stays up until 11 p.m., and if a scribe wanted to, say, skimp on his job and play golf -- at the "special media rate" -- with his hard-working fellow scribes at a local Scottish links ... well, that Darren Clarke pre-tournament interview isn't that important, is it?

Here's what I don't love about the British Open: The food. (Listen, I'm no vegan, but would it kill these guys to mix in some greens? No wonder Monty has breasts.)

What else I don't like about the British Open: The fact that the press tent on Sunday at midnight is without heat, and your faithful scribe might or might not be typing this with hands colder than a Muirfield member to a woman who says, "Hey, can I join?"

(Just as I wrote that, a fellow scribe barked out: "Hey, when do they bring the Zamboni machine in here?" We ink-stained wretches think alike, and brilliantly, I might add.)

We'll get right to a special, British Open Weekend List of Five, before said Zamboni knocks out my power cord:

1. Tiger: 81

Tiger Woods
On Saturday, we finally got indisputable proof that Tiger is mortal.
Let's be honest. Grand Slam or no Grand Slam, it was good to see Tiger post the Big Number, just because it was something different. You cover this guy for a while, and it's all the same: Same answers to stupid questions, same team of off-putting agents and handlers, same machine-like decimation of major championships.

It's cool, but it's the same.

Then, 81! Eighty-one! This was foreign, this was "Tiger kidnapped by aliens," this was news, baby. With Tiger, news is, in fact, news. He even chucked his hat for a few holes, because it was water-logged, and the look was different. Tiger Goes Bare Pate at Muirfield! News! Tiger Appears to Have Gotten a Haircut! News!

I love my job.

So dies the Grand Slam, unless Tiger is interested in pancakes, eggs, toast and hash browns down at Denny's.

Mmmmm. Denny's. I'd kill every man in this press tent for a meal at Denny's.

2. Jack's reaction to Tiger's 81

I haven't heard it yet, but who are we kidding? You know the Golden Bear went '72 Miami Dolphins on us and iced a little champagne for the occasion. As soon as that last putt went in Sunday, and Woods was eliminated, you could probably hear the pop of the bubbly down in West Palm Beach. Jack had Nick Buonicotti and the boys over, and the toasts, I'm sure, were rich.

Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus should be celebrating every time Woods fails to win a major.
And, for the record, I'd be disappointed if that weren't the case. Don't insult us with this "Aw, my records were made to be broken" malarky that we get from all the greats. They got great by being selfish, obsessive superstars who would hock everything for one more home run, one more touchdown, one more major.

If I'm Jack, I have a list of Tiger's to-be-played majors on my bedroom wall, say, until age 45, and each time he doesn't win one, I'm crossing it off my list.

Cheers, Golden Bear!

3. BBC Radio: Murrow on a golf course

Drawing on Churchillian vocabularies, and on Cooler-like hyperbole -- thankfully more of the former than the latter -- the BBC rolls out radio broadcasts of the Open that are one part opera, two parts comedy. Breathless commentators, in whispered accents ranging from the Stiff English Guy to the Rolling Scottish Burr Dude, say things like: "He draws the putter back ... he strikes it ... it's rolling ... it's up and .... Oooooooohhhhhh! It's a foot past the hole!" Yeah. A six-foot putt that went seven feet, right?

To listen to these guys, it's the Normandy Invasion, or the Hindenberg. Shigeki Maruyama bogeys 10 and ... "Oh! The Humanity!"

I wonder: Why can't we have this? Instead, we get airwaves cluttered with Biff from Chatsworth, who has figured out the Dodgers can get Vlad Guerrero for future considerations -- "like, dude, if we sell it the right way and stuff."

Give me BBC golf. I've never heard a drive hit the fairway sound so sweet.

4. A word on the Spafro

Miguel Angel Jimenez
If Miguel Angel Jimenez ever loses a ball, he might be able to pull a new one out of the Spafro.
He might have missed the cut, but the time has come to spread the gospel on the fright wig currently sported by Spanish golfer Miguel Angel Jimenez. Among an elite corps of golf writers, the evolution of Jimenez's outrageous lid has been one of 2002's most fascinating storylines. It was spotted gaining height around the Players Championship, and by Masters time, it was suggested that Jimenez's hair had sprouted to the point that should he pump a ball out of bounds on the tee, he could reach into the wig and pull down a fresh one.

When discussion overflowed in the press tent one day, an ESPN personality -- who shall remain nameless, but he's very tall and covers a lot of golf -- overheard and said, "Oh, you're finally caught on to The Spafro?"

The Spafro?

"Yeah," the ESPN personality who is very tall and covers a lot of golf said, "the Spanish Afro."

At Muirfield, the Spafro was seen at new maximum heights and wonders -- and aglow in an orange hue. He wore an orange shirt in the first round, and whispers flew: "The Spafro is accessorizing!"

This is how we pass our time, people.

5. American sports

Huh? Say what? There's a cricket match on Sky TV, my friend. Later on, a little Premiership Football -- exhibition season. And haven't you heard about the latest Grand Prix race in Germany?

Come on, everybody. Go Euro!

Just don't ask about the shower.

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



Brian Murphy Archive

Murphy: Our last honest man

Murphy: We don't need no stinkin' TiVo

Murphy: A clothes call in World Cup

Murphy: An artful gallery at Bethpage

Murphy: Conned by an ex-con

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