I was really ready to call myself a Chris DiMarco fan after he came up just short of Tiger in the Masters. I was never on board with the "he choked" train of thought. The guy played a heck of a tourney at Augusta, bested dozens of the top players in the world and took home $756,000, if not an ugly jacket.
Now, though, after watching him go down on Sunday to a PGA Tour nobody at the Zurich Classic in Avondale, La., it's time we call a spade a spade -- and DiMarco a choker of Normanesque proportions.
The guy's had six runner-up finishes since since has last win on tour, the '02 Phoenix Open. In the last two majors, he's had the best player in the world on the ropes and still headed home cosy in the notion that, well, he was almost the best that day. How can this keep happening? DiMarco comes in second more often than Jackie Gallagher-Smith's husband.
After leading the pack going into the final round, and keeping it (or at least a share of it) all day, DiMarco goes and bogeys No. 18 to finish tied with Lucas Glover (aka: Who?) and another equally memorable name: Tim Petrovic, who basked in the glow of the victory for 30 minutes or so before heading off into the sunset in his pizza-delivery truck.
I'm sure the PR hacks at the Zurich Open are wringing their hands with glee at the prospect selling the event next year. I can see the '06 media guide cover now: "The Zurich Classic, where even pizza guys get to bitch slap Chris DiMarco!"
In all seriousness, though, DiMarco's debacle aside, Petrovic's first-ever victory is pretty cool. Twelve years ago, the guy felt he'd given pro golf his best shot. He packed up, and went to work in the pizza game. "That's washing floors and washing dishes, that's not just making pizzas," he told reporters. By 1998 his dad and some friends put together enough money for Petrovic to give the Tour another shot. Now he's riding high, and aiming his brand new RV in the direction of Charlotte for the Wachovia Championship (perhaps delivering some pies along the way).
Here's hoping that sometime down the line, Petrovic hooks up with former Budweiser delivery man Mark Johnson, winner of the Toshiba Senior Classic, and Sophie Sandolo of the Ladies European Tour. Think about it? For golf guys like us, this would be the Holy Trinity. Anyone know of a touring pro who can roll cigars?
As always, we eagerly await your comments on pizza, beer, Sondolo, or even your favorite courses from around the world.
Located in the winelands, with awesome mountain views, Erinvale Golf Club is a great setting for a visitor to get a feel for South African golf, preferably with two big Afrikaners, sweating and cursing their way good-naturedly around the course. From the back nine, you can see the ocean, and from almost the whole course you'll have views of the surrounding hills, the vineyards gleaming in the African sun. The golf and wine culture blend spectacularly.
The old girl was a little ragged around the edges. But, the group of USGA officials walking the venerable No. 2 at Pinehurst didn't seem concerned. That's because come June, when the 2005 U.S. Open barrels into this small, golf-centric town in the sandhills of North Carolina, her caretakers say she'll be one stately, handsome woman again. Like most classic beauties, it takes her a while to get her face on.