Say it ain#8217;t true Verne Lundquist

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Does anyone remember Karl Spackler?

Portrayed by actor Bill Murray in the 1980 classic movie CaddyShack, Karl was the assistant groundskeeper at Bushwood Country Club. He was a slob and a bit of a pervert, but perhaps one of his best bits in that comedy was when he took a slingblade and, pretending it was a driver, began whacking the heads off the flowers, dreaming he was about to win the Masters golf tournament.

“Cinderella story…out of nowhere, about to become the Masters champion,” Karl, err Bill, said in the movie.

Perhaps Karl should be considered a prophet. His make-believe bit actually proved true this past Sunday when a 31-year-old, little-known farm boy from Iowa won the most prestigious golfing title in the world n The Masters.

Thank goodness there are still people like Zach Johnson in our little corner of the universe. If not, we’d all become Tiger Woods fan clones, aimlessly following our cult hero as he shoots 40 under par and runs away with his 1,000th win on the PGA Tour.

Was it just me or was there a huge effort on Sunday by the talking heads on CBS to will Tiger to another Masters win? To those of us watching and listening on Sunday afternoon, we were repeatedly bombarded with such ditties as “Tiger Woods never loses a major tournament when playing in the final pairing; the Masters winner has come out of the final group since 1990;” and, my favorite, “once Tiger gets the lead at a major, he doesn’t let it go.”

Hate to tell you guys, but you’re wrong on all three counts.

Sure, Tiger Woods is among the best golfers of all time. Some say he is the best-ever and he may be, but no one, not even the most star-studded athlete, can win each and every time they set foot on a field, a court or a course.

As good as Hammering Hank Aaron was he could not belt one out of the park every time he stepped to the plate and his Braves couldn’t win every game.

Michael Jordan, in my opinion as well as plenty of other sports observers, is the best basketball player ever. Did the Chicago Bulls win each and every game? Nope.

Ditto for the San Francisco 49’ers with Joe Montana under center; or the Denver Broncos with John Elway or the Packers with Brett Favre. Even “The King” Richard Petty or the late, great Dale Earnhardt failed to see the checkered flag wave over their car every week.

If Woods wanted to win on Sunday, he would have played a bit better on Thursday through Saturday. He missed fairways and misread putts. But still, because he is a mighty fine golfer, he was in position to make a move on Sunday.

When Woods’ second shot on the par 5, 13th hole magically rolled down a hill within inches of the cup, one could sense his urgency. He sank the putt for an eagle, prompting CBS talking head Jim Nantz to think out loud, “We wonder what is going through the mind of young Zach Johnson at this point. He has to feel the ground trembling.”

I yelled at the TV, saying what I felt Zach was thinking…..“gee, Tiger made an eagle and I still have a two-shot lead.”

Johnson, with only one PGA Tour win to his credit before Sunday, never flinched down the stretch, but we wouldn’t know it because the TV cameras and the talking heads kept waiting for Tiger to pounce and claim another green jacket. It was an afterthought to them that an obscure golfer from the Midwest finished the final round of the Masters with a three-under-par 69 and, in the process, just spanked Tiger’s fanny along with those of 58 other golfers on the course.

Even CBS couldn’t bring itself to show a replay of Tiger’s choke shot on the par 5, 15th hole where his approach rolled into the water. He did scramble to save par on the hole, but Tiger hit one in the water? Say it ain’t true Verne Lundquist.

The mighty Tiger, in search of his fifth green jacket, showed the world why golf is such a humble game. Tiger was just as human as the average Joe on Sunday in Augusta where he wrapped a four-iron around a tree while trying to whack his way out of the rough on #11 and missed a six-foot birdie on the par 3, 16th hole.

Yup, he was human, but the talking heads never let on.