Jean Van de Velde didn’t need a better swing coach, psychologist orfinancial planner to win golf’s most coveted championship, the BritishOpen, last weekend. What he needed was a lawyer. The Rules of Golf,which golf professionals are somehow expected to master along withdriving, chipping and putting, are about as perspicacious as theInternal Revenue Code, and more important to boot. Playing a long shotfrom a deep sand bunker is cake compared to taking on the intricacies ofRule 27. Had Jean had a lawyer by his side as he played the fatefuleighteenth hole at Carnoustie, he might have won, despite his poorjudgments and poor shot execution.
Recall the troubles. Our doomed Frenchman carried a commandingthree-shot lead into the final hole of the Open. A simple par, aroutine score for a professional, would mean the famed Claret Jug wouldbe brimming with expensive Bordeaux within the hour. But even aone-over par bogey or a double bogey, the mode score of hackerseverywhere, brings the Jug to France. Now ending with a double-bogey isnot winning in the classic style, to be sure, but who cares aboutconvention? Jean’s postmodern, a deconstructionist, and an offhand waveof the Gauloise accompanied by an insouciant smile, c’est la vie andthat double bogey is forgotten forever.
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