I'm a staunch atheist, have been since I was 12, but I do firmly believe in one quasi-religious concept, redemption, when it comes to sports.
My example this week is the Australian, Greg Norman, who's having a dream British Open under trying conditions at Royal Birkdale, in the North of England on the Irish Sea. Steady rain on Day 1, winds up to 50 mph on and off and a course that couldn't be more different than the lush, wide, fairly hazard-free courses that the tour pros usually play on have made for some fascinating viewing.
Mr. Norman is actually on his honeymoon with new bride Chris Evert --the trophy room in their house must be gigantic-- and only entered the Open to tune up for some upcoming Seniors Tour tournaments (!!). He's had some career success, but sadly, he'll probably be best remembered by golf fans for his total meltdown on the final day of the 1996 Masters, when a six hole lead turned in to a five hole loss to Nick Faldo. Norman seems loose, made a kick-ass chip shot from the rough on 18 (within a foot of the cup) to extend his lead, is in good spirits and I wish him luck on Sunday.
Another name from the golfing past cropped up during the first two days, David Duval. I've lusted after the tall, lanky Floridian for ages but he simply disappeared off the golf map not long after his British Open win in 2001; at one point, it was Duval, not Phil Mickelson, who was Tiger Woods main rival, but alas, golf can be cruel: after being only three shots behind going in to Saturday, he tripled bogeyed the first hole and shot himself out of contention with an 83. Nice to see his fine self again, though, despite the horrible chin pubes.
Ah, lust, lust and Padraig Harrington. The totally adorable Irishman is one of a gaggle of players still in contention, 2 shots back, with K.J. Choi of Korea very much in the mix at two back as well. Mr. Choi might end up lamenting his putting on 15 Saturday, when he had a chance to make up some ground but couldn't convert. Feel-good-story from the U.S. Open Rocco Mediate is six shots back, but to be honest, with the weather likely to be more of the same on Sunday, I wouldn't count anyone within five shots out yet. In any case, it'll be nice to see shots of my beloved England while they flash the scores again on Sunday. ABC's coverage starts at 5:00 am here in Los Angeles: I love my DVR! -- Jim Allen