CBS spent the better part of its broadcast of The Memorial golf tournament promoting "the funniest new reality show on television," Fire Me...Please! (It's apparently based on Gary McCord's performance at the 1994 Masters when he said about the 17th hole at Augusta National, "they don't mow this green, they bikini wax it," thus ending his Masters broadcast career.)
Still, the best reality show going is the PGA TOUR, itself. Impossible to predict week to week (now that Tiger is susceptible to kryptonite). And certainly no scripts, as evidenced by Bart Bryant's improbable victory at the Memorial in Columbus, Ohio.
If a reality show is hosted by, say, Jeff Probst, producers have some control over the outcome. With Jim Nantz, no way. Otherwise, everyone else would've been voted out of Muirfield Village except Fred Couples, Nantz's best bud and former teammate on the University of Houston golf team. But Freddie was sent packing in the tournament's final 45 minutes when he: missed a short eagle putt, couldn't get up and down from a greenside bunker at 16, missed a makeable birdie attempt at 17, and blew his approach to 18 halfway to Palau.
Couples is the gallery's most beloved player among those still active, but Tiger Woods is still the most captivating. And he had his chances, too. Three straight birdies put him within two of the lead until he double bogeyed a short par 3. That left him no room for error coming down the stretch, such as the bogey he made at 14 that left him with his pockets full but his trophy case undisturbed.
One by one, storylines the fans and media hoped to see develop never did. David Toms, humble and preppy, imploded. Jeff Sluman, the smiley veteran playing with borrowed credibility having been granted a sponsor's exemption by tournament founder and host Jack Nicklaus, faded. Even Bo Van Pelt would've sufficed. Unknown by most, for sure, but at least his dad played in the NFL. And they like their football in the land of The Ohio State University. But Bo still don't know winning on the PGA TOUR after splashing his approach to the par 5 15th and bogeying 18 when a birdie would've given him the clubhouse lead.
When it came to dotting Is and crossing Ts, no one was more efficient coming home than Bryant. His front nine scorecard looked like an argyle sock with three red numbers, three green, and three black. But an inward 32 - capped by a soggy, scrambling par at 18 after his tee shot found the creek - was enough by one to earn him his second TOUR title but his first with anyone paying attention. Bryant's maiden victory at last year's Texas Open happened opposite the Ryder Cup, which no one was watching on Sunday either, come to think of it.
As scripts go, Bryant certainly wouldn't have wished the one written for him the last 15 years on anyone. A native of Gatesville, Texas, about two hours east of nowhere, the 42-year-old Bryant has had as many injuries and operations as full seasons on TOUR. Hogan was said to have dug his success out of the dirt. Bryant's previous claim to fame was an older brother, Brad, known as "Dr. Dirt." Hardly the champion pedigree for the graycoats and bluebloods at Muirfield.
In fact, you'd sooner peg Bart as a plumber than PGA TOUR player. And he'd lived on similar wages for most of his career. But that par putt he drained on 18 earned him both a $990,000 first prize and a firm handshake from Nicklaus as he walked off the green. Talk about your pipe dreams.
As Bryant has discovered the hard way, sometimes reality bites. Give a guy credit when he bites back. And be glad the TOUR doesn't always work off the script we want. Bart Bryant is a real Survivor.
Congratulations to Annika Sorenstam. Her victory at the ShopRite Classic yesterday was not only her fifth of the year and 61st of her career, it also gets her halfway to the Grocers' Grand Slam. With a win at the Safeway in March already in the bag, Annika turns her attention to the Wegman's later this month and the second Safeway event in August in Portland. Remember Annika, more than 10 wins and you can't use the Express Checkout Line.
Finally, the Kansas City Royals got all hot and bothered Sunday when Texas Rangers' reliever Francisco Cordero glared into their dugout and grabbed his crotch after getting the final out of an 8-1 win. They thought he was showing them up after they'd complained about his hitting one of their batters in the 9th inning. But my sources tell me Cordero was merely showing his support to Michael Jackson, who'll find out this week if he'll be sent to the showers.