Debriefing on our two major minor sports: Which U.S. Open is more open? Golf. There are only about a half-dozen men and women who can't win a golf Open; there are only about a half-dozen men and women who can win a tennis Open. Or so the statistics say.
In golf, Andy North captures the Open title seven years apart and nothing in between; I dare anyone who cannot swing a one-iron to name the reigning women's Open champion.
(Hint to Washingtonians: think of Joe Theismann's love and the secretary of the Treasury.)
In tennis, the women are so familiar we need not even mention last names. Chris and Martina; Martina and Chris. Always and, it seems, forevermore.
"I feel sorry for poor Zina (Garrison)," Martina said yesterday after thumping that fine young player. "She's such a nice lady and tries so hard. She deserves better but always ends up in my quarter or half (of the draw). Always."
Every year except one since 1974, according to the U.S. Tennis Association's record book, either "Christine Marie Evert" or "Chris Evert Lloyd" has advanced to the Open final.
She has inspired so much for so long, including monumentally stupid hints that perhaps retirement is imminent. She's only No. 1 on the computer ranking just now.
"The motivating force," she said the other day, her bones all but creaking at age 30, "is that I know that one morning I'm going to wake up and it's going to take me an hour to get out of bed. And I'm gonna be aching. And then the tennis will be over and done with."
Neat theory: when she can't walk away, Chris says she will. By that time, her game will be in such sorry shape that the latest child in diapers will force a third set.
The men are nearly as predictable. In the last 11 years, either Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe has reached the championship.
So why do they play any rounds before the quarterfinals in the tennis Open?
To get rid of all the food a caravan of yuppies once stashed when it looked as though interest rates would stay around 20 percent.
There is a Village Market at the National Tennis Center. To get to it from the subway, a commoner slides through the line of stretch limos and hangs a left at the Rolls.
What amounts to an open-air Connecticut Connection includes walnut chicken salad "on an oversized croissant," Italian beer, yogurt and rum raisin ice cream.
At the golf Open, you need to own a good deal of South Dakota to gain entrance to the corporate tents that feature such fare. Otherwise, it's the same ham-and-cheese stands Hogan surely passed by at Riviera in the '40s.
Some amateurs routinely make the cut at the golf Open and famous pros do not. What is the best an obscure hacker can hope for against the elite in tennis?
To hit some wake-up shots. For instance, the 1983 NCAA champion, Greg Holmes, had Mats Wilander, 5-1, in a first-set tie breaker; Wilander pummeled him. Seventeen- year-old Jaime Yzaga won the first set from Ivan Lendl -- and only seven games thereafter.
Tennis and golf tournaments are such sprawling affairs. How can a fan keep track of it all?
With his ears. A quarter-mile away, golf sophisticates can tell by the noise around the green how a particular threesome is doing.
If it's a roar, either Hubert Green has holed out from the fairway or Jack Nicklaus has drained a four-footer for par.
Over a $4.95 hamburger at the Village Market, tennis junkies can keep track of a doubles match without so much as a glance at one of the nearby television monitors.
Are the bad boys of tennis worse than the bad boys of golf?
Yes, but not by as much as you might think. A golfer's fate rarely depends on the judgment of officials; a tennis player's often does.
Where thousands of customers cluttered about the court hear a McEnroe or Connors obscenity, only a few dozen get treated to similar crudities from the pampered brats of golf.
Which players whine the loudest and the longest? Golfers. Dave Hill once said an Open course would have made a wonderful cow pasture. Hale Irwin and Jack Nicklaus were livid about the mowers in Atlanta in '76.
After eight years at Flushing Meadow, most tennis players have learned to tolerate inordinate fan movement -- and the possibility that a lob will come to rest in the nonsmoking section of the Eastern shuttle.
Was anyone happy with a loss at this tennis Open?
Ion Tiriac, the manager/coach/agent to Boris Becker. After the teen-ager who flabbergasted sport by winning Wimbledon was upset in the fourth round here, Tiriac said:
"It would not have been right for him to win this one. How in hell could I deal with him if he won this one? When would I have had the time? It takes time to put together what is necessary to be No. 1.
"You cannot expect him, in such a short time, to learn everything. The material is there. We just have to mold it. He needs more molding."
How might officials of the U.S. golf and tennis Opens be kept from becoming too haughty?
By reminding them that the British versions are more historical and more distinctive and, in many ways, more important.