Daily Archives: July 20, 2009

Tom Watson and more proof tennis is harder than golf



So, I know hate is a strong word, but I really, really HATE golf. Hate it more than mushrooms or roller-coasters or the music of Slipknot.

I think golf is stupid and boring and as a tennis player, it often offends me when golf is considered a better, or tougher sport.

I hate losing friends to golf; that’s literally how I see it, like they’ve been taken by some evil force.

 Last week I was in Miami visiting one of my best friends, a guy who I grew up playing tennis with, a guy who played tennis his whole life. Only, the last few years, he’s taken up golf. The first time he told me he’d started playing, he was practically ashamed.

Now, he tells me sometimes on weekends he’ll watch golf on TV. If he’d told me he was from Planet Melmac, I’d have been less surprised (Ah, the greatness that was ALF.)

Anyway, so here’s why I’m writing this: A great sports story happened this weekend. 

Tom Watson, one of the greatest American golfers ever, was leading the British Open for three rounds, and came within an eyelash of winning the whole tournament. He lost in a playoff Sunday, and it was a great story, an old guy coming back to the scene of his greatest triumph, almost becoming the oldest man to ever win a golf major.

See, Watson is 59. And he had hip replacement surgery less than a year ago. And again, it’s a great story, and the best sportswriter going right now, Joe Posnanski, wrote a wonderful column about Watson.

But here’s my point: He’s a 59-year-old guy on one good hip. Can you imagine one of the four majors in tennis being won a 59-year-old guy on one good hip? It’s laughable.

 Golf people talk about how physically demanding the sport is at the pro level, and how you need to be in good shape, yada, yada, yada. But a 59-year-old who hasn’t played well in 20 years nearly wins one of the most important tournaments.

Tennis is the harder sport, the more athletic, the more physically demanding, whatever else you want to say.

And one more thing from this weekend of golf: Tiger Woods missed the cut. The great, amazing, unbelievable, he- can-walk-on-water-if-we-just-let-him-try hero of golf. He had a bad couple of days. Hey, it happens in that game.

But as SI tennis writer Jon Wertheim said on Twitter the other day, doesn’t that just put into perspective how amazing Roger Federer’s current streak of 21 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals is? Federer isn’t allowed to have a bad day; he has to be at his best seven straight matches over two weeks, or he’s done.

Tennis tournaments don’t give you a chance to recover, or make up ground somewhere else.

More proof that when you get right down to it, tennis is far, far superior to that game they play with clubs and white, dimpled balls.