It might take me a month to recover. Maybe longer. I am bushed, fatigued, dehydrated and spent. And I didn't even participate in what people were hyping as the most grueling competition ever experienced by humans.
I had only watched a couple of minutes on television, read a sidebar or two in the paper and listened momentarily to the interviews and analysts on the radio. They all seemed to agree.
The U.S. Open golf championship held at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., last week was the quintessential test of durability, stamina and testosterone. The Open's combination of heat and sand were far worse than anything appearing in Thomas Edward Lawrence's worst nightmares.
Compared to the rough in this Tulsa tangle, the densest rain forest became just another English garden with little bushes trimmed into animal shapes.
Let the Kenyans have the marathons, if they must, this Open was an event which would be survived by only the strongest.
At the end of regulation play Sunday, the reports conjured up a gruesome mental image of bodies piled around the 18th green. Most of the competitors unable to muster the strength needed to edge the white sphere into the cup from even a distance as short as eighteen inches.
First it was Stewart Cink who sunk not the golf ball but his chances to win as he blew a foot-and-a-half gimme putt that would have put him into the playoffs.
"I expected the conditions to be hot and windy," said Cink before his final round, "and I haven't been surprised."
After his final putt, no doubt still gasping for air, Cink seemed not to know what hit him.
"It (the putt) was very tough for me," said Cink. "I don't know, I can't really explain it. I felt a bit shaky on it."
Exposure can do that to a fellow, especially when it's hot, windy and the pressure becomes intense. It would have been a nice touch at that point if Dan Rather and a sidekick named Wolf had shown up in safari jackets.
Next, it was the leaders' chance to bow before sport's most demanding test. Retief Goosen, the eventual winner, and Mark Brooks, the eventual loser, each three-putted the final hole to force Monday's 18-hole playoff and give everyone a chance to speculate on whether each would have enough left to crawl around the Tulsa course.
Requiring 18 holes of playoff golf on this course, under these conditions, some reports seemed to suggest, would be akin to asking a swimmer who had just crossed the English Channel to take a victory lap around the Falklands.
I didn't have a chance to watch that death-defying playoff but I can picture spectators bold enough to brave the conditions at Southern Hills Country Club cheering and tossing cups of water at Goosen and Brooks as they slunk toward the final fairway. In the distance, I could almost hear some band playing "Golf Carts of Fire."
If only these guys would have been able to ride carts this would have been a much kinder, gentler tournament. A tournament that maybe would have been won by a guy of greater stature but less conditioning. But it would also have become a tournament that would have forfeited drama and heroics had players been allowed to cart the course.
Maybe it's a coincidence that the importance of the physical tests of golf became such a big media focus in this U.S. Open. Maybe all that hype was just coincidence in this first PGA major after the Supreme Court ruled that disabled golfer Casey Martin may use a cart to ride in tournaments. Then again, maybe it's too much of a coincidence.
It might be skeptical to suggest that all the emphasis on the impact of the physical aspects of golf is just an exercise in damage control by a PGA looking to reconstruct a public image damaged by its battle with Martin.
But perhaps skepticism is appropriate when we've witnessed the uneasy alliance of the XFL and NBC. When we've seen produced television shows like "Survivor" air on CBS and then get presented on that same station as news on its morning magazine show.
Maybe it's reasonable for thinking folks to wonder aloud whether the sudden emphasis on the physical demands of golf is just one more example of a message manipulated by event sponsorship, served up by media dependent on event income, and ravenously swallowed by a smitten public hungry for heroes and eager to believe.
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