Cleat Geeks

Non story sometimes the good story

This week I was looking forward to writing about the Northern Trust Open. The Tournament was played at Riviera Country Club in Palisades California. Riviera golf course is one of my favorite golf courses to watch a tournament. Riviera opened for play in 1926 and though it has gone through some alteration and lengthened some it has kept its original appeal and design. The course by today’s standards is not considered long but that’s what I like about it. Riviera is a shot makers golf course that a player needs to think himself around. The fact that it is not a grip it and rip it course is what appeals to me the most. It is a golf course that golfers actually need to play golf on rather then hit it as far as you can and see who wins the putting contest. To me the 10th hole is one of the greatest if not the greatest short par 4 holes in the world. I can watch pro golfers play that hole all day. The hole makes some of them look like Sunday afternoon duffers and sometimes the shots they hit are nothing less then spectacular. There is no better example of this than the way Dustin Johnson played the 315 yard par 4 during the tournament. He had 2 birdies, a bogie on Friday after driving the ball pin high in the bunker and during the playoff on Sunday he made what may turn out to be on of the best shots of the year to make birdie and continue the playoff.

As I was watching the tournament, like any writer I was looking for an angle to approach what I would write about. At the end of day one the leaderboard was a who’s who of golf circa 2005. Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen were tied atop the leaderboard after Thursday’s opening round. Here it was, my angle, two stars in the twilight of their careers playing well on an old style golf course. Through the end of the third round Goosen was the leader by two strokes and Vijay, although he fell back, was still within striking distance. I was looking forward to a good Sunday and the contents of my article were all coming together. Then Sunday happened, the weather changed and with it so did the leaderboard and all the good stories I had planned. After the 7th hole Goosen was basically never a factor, Vijay fell back came up and then he was done. Things though began to look up as Sergio Garcia was the leader with 4 holes to play. Like him or not, Sergio is always a good story. I was back in business but like the others, Sergio was not going to make my job easy. Sergio preceded to bogie the final two holes and become an also ran again. To Sergio’s credit thought during his post game interview he admitted that he did not play well enough all week to deserve to win and it finally caught up to him on the last two holes. He was the only one who could not capitalize, Dustin Johnson one of the longest hitters on tour, bogied the par 5 17th after a good drive into the fairway and then after a brilliant 2nd shot on 18, he missed an 8 foot putt that would have won the tournament. Why me I said, Johnson also would have been a great story if he won playing for just the second time out after serving his self imposed or PGA dictated leave of absence, but no nothings ever easy.jameshahn

Who finally won, James Hahn did. You ask who’s James Hahn? well your not the only one. His victory made me scramble to find out more about this guy. Before the tournament he was the 297th ranked player in the world and never a real factor on the PGA tour. Amazing though how 1 win can change someone’s life. First this was no fluke, he deserved to win. He made two great pars at the last 2 holes to get into the playoff. He followed that by making birdies on both playoff holes. He won the tournament, it was not handed to him. Life now has changed for Hahn, he has moved to to number 86 in the world ranking and more importantly he has secured an invitation to this years Masters tournament. However, the biggest change to James Hahn life is still to come very shortly, he and his wife are expecting their first child in three weeks. First child, first PGA tour win? Yep, I got lucky, all the good stories faded away but the non story became the best story.


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