By Rex O’Rourke

Shanghai, China – While most sports fans with normal sleep habits were sawing wood, the most extraordinary theatre played out at the WGC-HSBC Champions at Shesan Golf Club half a world away. The recent past, present and future of golf all collided in what every network had been hoping for all year; a final round pairing of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods; plus the bonus of a resurgent Ernie Els, and young guns Ryan Moore, Nick Watney, and Rory McIlroy all atop the leader board. Augusta, eat your heart out!

The Big Easy ripped the hearts out of his South African fan base buy putting one in the water on 18, Tiger played the front nine like a high handicapper, the two young Americans challenged but faded, and the young Irishman, McIlroy (who I’m not sure shaves yet) posted a final round 63.

The story, however, was Mickelson two putting the last (after driving it in the rough, I mean come on, what else would Phil do?) for the win in a display of sublime shot making and grit; overcoming a whiff, that’s right, a swing and miss, on an attempted lob wedge on the penultimate hole. After chipping onto the dance floor, he calmly drained the twenty-footer to save par. Still, anyone who knows Phil knows the eighteenth was no slam dunk. He always makes it interesting.

Now I know golf is in the quote/unquote silly season, but there was nothing goofy about the field assembled for these 72 holes. Ryan Moore, who I believe plays in retro Pro-Keds, and sports a four day beard and painter’s hat while looking not unlike an unmade bed, has a swing and fashion sense so ugly, it’s like a car wreck; you just can’t stop watching.

Rory McIlroy needed a note from his teacher to kick Tiger’s ass, and Nick Watney held his own in the same group as the World number one and two; showing them and us hints of things to come. Only Anthony Kim is a more heralded youngster, but he wants to be Marky Mark more than a golfer right now.

If Mr. Woods thinks he’s going to cruise to eighteen majors, he’s sadly mistaken. There are some truly talented young players out there who are just crazy enough not to feel pressure, and who don’t give a model’s undies who they’re golfing in the same group with. Watch out Tiger. You’ve been warned!

As for sports one can watch at a normal hour, I currently stand at 17-6-1 against the spread after a 1-2 week. I love The FALCONS (-10) over The Redskins, like The Texans (+9) over The COLTS, and have a crush on The 49ERS (-4) over The Titans.

Until next week,

P.S. I know The Yankees won it all, but it’s been covered to death already. Pitchers and catchers are just around the corner.

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