This morning I turned on the Golf Channel, fully expecting to see some infomercial for some product that would fix my slice, or make me a more efficient putter. Or maybe see a half hour on a great new golf shoe endorsed by Butch Harmon
Instead the TV displayed the South African Airways Open, and aside from the unfortunate name, the final nine holes of this tournament were as exciting as anything I’ve seen since the Masters.
Though Retief Goosen had led the entire tournament, Ernie “Bionic Knee” Els made a magnificent charge on the final day to close the gap. By the 16th hole, it was all tied up. On the 17th, Goosen made a remarkable chip from off the green to birdie a hole many felt he’d have a tough time making par on. Then on the 18th, a par five with an interesting green site (that Els surely knew well from the Presidents Cup a few years back), Els knocked his ball to five feet in two, while Goosen’s ball came up long. Els couldn’t convert the eagle and Goosen got up and down for birdie to take the tournament.
It was fascinating to see two greats go head to head on a golf course that played outstandingly hard and fast. No PGA Tour greens where the ball stops on a dime. Fancourt came off like the modern links it was fashioned to be, with balls bounding through the fairways, and hard greens forcing a degree of creativity rarely seen in North America.
Of course the tournament also caught Goosen and Els at the height of their respective abilities. It was a tremendous viewing experience and I felt lucky to be watching it.
I guess this proves that there can be some great golf after August — you just have to seek it out.
If you want to read what the South African media had to say, go here. The story isn’t very good, so if I find something more worth reading, I’ll repost later.