By Tony Kornheiser
Thursday, September 21, 2006
The "Monday Night Football" game between Pittsburgh and Jacksonville was quite tense and taut and the rating was spectacular, but the one disappointment I had afterward was that we never got to show the greatest athletic achievement of my life -- technically, perhaps the only one, but I digress. As Mike Tirico has become fond of saying, "It's all about you, Tony." (Finally, he gets it!) The day before the game, Tirico, Joe Theismann and I went to the TPC Sawgrass course in Ponte Vedra to take our shots at the famous -- and infamous -- island green at No. 17, probably the most recognizable hole on the PGA Tour. We brought a crew with us to film it on the ground and, get this, we hired the Goodyear blimp to film it from above.
We were each going to take one shot, going in order from youngest to oldest. The pin was set in the front of the two-tiered green, only about three paces from the water, a 135-yard carry shot. Tirico, who, I think, is a 12 handicap and has been around great golfers for years as an announcer, went first and rinsed it, and I genuinely felt bad for him. Then came the heavy betting favorite, the self-taught scratch golfer and Super Bowl MVP, Joe Theismann. He's a very strong player and I assume he went with an 8-iron or even a 9.
I held my tongue because I still had to go. But, come on, all the pressure was off me now, because Joey had put it in the water. (Cindy: "You were grinning, weren't you, after that happened." Me: "No, absolutely not. No, no, no. Um, unless you've seen the tape . . .") I took a 7-iron, which is a girlie club for that distance, but I certainly didn't want to be short. My hands were soaking wet from flop sweat, and had they shown the video you'd have seen a giant wet spot on my back as well. But I got extremely lucky; I made a good, strong pass at it and drew it onto the top tier, where it stuck, safe and dry -- and visible! -- about 40 feet above the hole. Not that I acted like Chad Johnson after a touchdown or anything, because I'm not that kind of guy. Of course, the tape might tell a different story. It might show me prancing around and screaming: "Yeah, baby! I got it done! Yeah, I'm the man!" Imagine me, a terrible player with a 17 handicap, landing on the island green. That's like Danny DeVito winning the NBA slam dunk contest!
We took one more shot each, just to see if it was a fluke. And this time, I landed 12 feet from the hole. This time I was more restrained because, frankly, this was becoming ordinary. (Tirico and Theismann both got on this time, so let's give it up for them.) That night, you can imagine how crestfallen I was when Pittsburgh and Jacksonville played the kind of football game that forced us to pay attention to them rather than to me -- I hate when that happens -- and we never ran the tape. But you can watch it on http://pgatour.com/ or, better yet, I've got a DVD and you can come to my house and we can watch it together. Over and over and over.