Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Garfield Effect

Odd Encounter of the Week: Dead Garfield

For the better part of the last decade, Tiger Woods has dominated the PGA Tour. While he's done this in nearly every way possible (majors, regular tour tournaments, coming from behind, leading the entire way, etc.), he never loses when holding the lead going into the last round. This is a remarkable pattern, given the inherent inconsistency in the game of golf as well as the talent of the other players on tour. When Tiger leads, everyone near him seems to wilt from him like petals falling off a flower. He's simply so good and so intimidating that the games of those near him crumble, giving rise to the Tiger Effect - basically a hex on anyone near the top of the leaderboard on the final day when Tiger has the lead.

Saturday was a gorgeous day. One great thing about North Carolinian weather is that it can sleet on Tuesday and be 70 on Saturday. I went out to the golf course to take advantage of the sun and to get away from the super-staurated football solution (holler back, Bio majors!) that is Thanksgiving weekend.

Things were rolling along as usual when my playing partner and I stopped the cart in the middle of the third fairway. Our third shot on this par 5 was 110 yards from the flag, center-cut in the fairway. As I stood over my shot with 9 iron in hand (I'm not a long hitter, as those of you who have seen my frame would probably guess), I look towards the flag where a dead, orange cat lies 15 yards in front of me directly in my line. It looked like Garfield except without the watermelon-shaped body.

I've seen plenty of roadkill in my life but never any fairwaykill. I was amazed at this new sight. My first inclination was that someone must have plowed it with a golfcart, a la your standard issue roadkill. No gore existed though, eliminating this option. My next thought was that the cat got hit by a golf ball and died on impact, a la Randy Johnson and the bird (yes, folks, that mass of feathers was a bird a split-second earlier, before Johnson's fastball destroyed it). Again though, no sign of outward damage or Johnsonian pulverization. It seemed Garfield was strolling across 3 fairway and simply decided he had had enough, laying down peacefully and entering eternity.

Now a dead cat in the middle of the fairway is nothing to shake a stick at and really isn't blog-worthy. Except that cat put a hex on me. Seriously. I don't believe in spells or curses or hexes - except when it comes to sports. The Chicago Cubs, any Madden football game cover, Duke football (honestly, a missed 17-yard extra point and a missed 19-yard field goal cost them 2 wins this year), Sports Illustrated, the city of Philadelphia (which has become the new Boston of sports hexes), Tiger Woods's playing partner in the final round, and a whole pile of other evidence prove that jinxs, in fact, do exist. I'm a believer.

So I take a hack at my ball and skull it 30 yards over the green into a swampy area labeled "Hazard: Propane Waste." Of course, I skull shots all the time, but my playing partner, who is substantially better than me, left his pitching wedge 30 yards short of the green and 20 yards to the left. I could blame these shots on our lack of talent, on the fact that my hips came through the swing too early and made me top the ball, on the fact that golf is not a game of perfection, but no! Personal responsibility be darned! I blame Garfield.

The PGA Tour may suffer from the ferocious attack of the Tiger Effect, but, that day, on the third hole at Larkhaven, I came face-to-face with another feline jinx - the Garfield Effect. And like the players on tour not named Tiger Woods, I succumbed.


Jeff said...

It's the 21st century Ben

Get with it.


Wilson said...

I'm a huge fan of the Madden curse. And I'm like you. I don't buy into jinxes and all except in sports.