Murphy's Law: Real action away from Heritage

Carl Pettersson may have captured career title number five, but the week's "action" happened outside the ropes, says American golf expert Brian Murphy.


Not saying that Carl Pettersson's five-shot win at sleepy Harbour Town lacked any drama, but … wait, I'm losing focus … drifting … zzzz … Oh, wait, did I nod off there? Sorry about that. Let me slap myself in the face and dunk my head in ice water. I'll be right back.

Right. Where were we? Surely, the golf world that gave us the epic "Bubba Watson Hook Shot from Heaven" during last week's playoff at the Masters would build on the drama and deliver dynamite theatre at the always popular Harbour Town RBC Heritage stop.

Or, maybe not.

Pettersson is a fine player, surely. Ranked 68th in the world coming into the week, the Swedish-born, American-educated guy with the Chris Farley physique won his fifth event with ease over Zach Johnson, tying Tiger Woods for biggest margin of victory this year. The win was devoid of drama – and big names – and as a result, you had guys like young Tour player Brendan Steele tweeting congratulations to Pettersson, whom he called a great guy and a "very underrated player." "Underrated" is known in CBS TV ratings circles as "no eyeballs watching this."

And yet, Pettersson's resume is good. He's won at Muirfield Village at Jack Nicklaus' Memorial, at Innisbrook in Florida, a well-regarded track, and now on the coast of South Carolina, in front of that pretty lighthouse. Whether or not the tournament committee had to call in a tailor to "let out" the winning tartan jacket – tailor-speak for accommodating more sizable patrons – to fit Pettersson, surely Southern hospitality precludes offering details.

It's a nice win for Pettersson, who has earned an invite to the 2013 Masters after missing this year. Truthfully, though, the week was more memorable for things that happened away from Harbour Town.

Like the Official World Golf Rankings, which bumped Luke Donald from the No. 1 ranking after he just got it back. His T-37 at the RBC Heritage meant he lost enough rankings points to fall behind Rory McIlroy and into the No. 2 spot. McIlroy is No. 1 – again.

It was that kind of week. A guy who didn't even play this week is back holding the big foamy "We're Number One" finger. McIlroy acknowledged as much with a tweet: "#1 again without touching a golf club … I wish it was that easy!"

One could even argue that Tim Tebow's charity golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass moved the needle more than Pettersson's win. Then again, if Tebow poured himself a glass of milk, or watched TV, or fired a pencil at the ceiling, it would move the needle more than Pettersson's win.

Bubba Watson honored his commitment to Tebow and showed up at the NFL star's event. He bestowed upon Tebow his Masters playing badge, which featured Watson's assigned competitor number – 15. When presented with the badge at Augusta National, Bubba noticed the number and left it unopened, telling his caddie he would give it to Tebow, since 15 is his jersey number. Surely, there are millions of Tebow fans who are heartened by this story and will pledge allegiance to Bubba forever now. Just as surely, John Elway is in Denver thinking: "Yeah? So what? I'm still glad I have Peyton."

You may be surprised to learn that Bubba choked up and wept in an interview as he described giving the badge to Tebow. Then again, you may not be.

Watson also made news by tweeting out a photo-shopped picture of the "Dukes of Hazzard" car the "General Lee," jumping Magnolia Lane. Some wondered if the green jackets shifted in their chairs when they saw this since after all, the "General Lee" is named after a Confederate general and features a Confederate flag. If that doesn't bother them, the idea of a car doing donuts in Augusta National's parking lot doesn't exactly fit their Masters vision. Surely, when Nicklaus won his six green jackets, he followed none of the wins with a photo-shopped shot of a muscle car vaulting Magnolia Lane.

Setting aside all socio-cultural commentary, it's just a funny photo. If the green jackets can't laugh, who do they think they are? Some stuffy, pompous, self-important golf club?

Wait. Never mind.

Final thoughts on Pettersson: He gets credit for mocking his own physique, calling himself and third-place finisher Colt Knost "just two fat guys" playing golf. One wonders if Knost gave him the OK to call him that. By tying Jesper Parnevik for most wins in the U.S. by a Swedish-born player, he accomplished a fairly obscure feat. And his wife has a sense of humor, too. Gazing upon her man in tartan, she tweeted: "Love my fat guy in a little coat." Aw, isn't that sweet?

If only we could get Pettersson to ditch the long putter. It remains not only an awful look, but also it should be illegal, in my opinion. Let me present the words of former USGA President and San Francisco golf legend Frank (Sandy) Tatum and decree: "The putter shall be the shortest club in the bag."

Scorecard of the week

66-68-69-68 – 17-under 271, Louis Oosthuizen, winner, European Tour Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur G&CC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Ever traveled 30 hours to a destination? It's not fun. I don't care how many iPads, catered meals, warmed nuts and free ginger ale you get – it's a drag. Add in the fact that you've just lost the Masters in a playoff to a guy who hit his tee shot into the enchanted forest, and you have Louis Oosthuizen's heartache.

You could hardly blame the gap-toothed South African if he sleepwalked through the first two rounds of the Malaysian Open, missed the cut, ordered a massage in his hotel room and slept all weekend.

Instead, he went out and won the darn thing.

Oosthuizen has gone third-second-first in his last three weeks, playing in two different hemispheres, to boot. This is a guy whose 2010 British Open win, by seven strokes, had people wondering if he was the next great player or the next great fluke. He's beginning to answer in the affirmative.

He won the African Open in 2011 but had no other wins since. An ankle injury in late 2010 affected him, but now it appears his Hogan-esque golf swing is back in business.

Sure makes a 30-hour return flight that much more palatable.

Mulligan of the week

Things might have been different at Harbour Town if Colt Knost had a second crack at hole No. 3. Having made birdie on the par-5 No. 2, Knost trailed Pettersson by only two strokes. The tournament was officially revving. But the hefty Knost made a hasty swing on the tee box – and yanked his drive into the woods, forcing a penalty drop. Rattled, his fourth went over the green. He chipped to 15 feet, then two-putted. Ick. That's a triple-bogey "7," and a two-stroke deficit turned into five, just like that. Pettersson cruised home from there.

So, in the interest of compelling Sunday TV, and at least a semblance of competition down the stretch, let's go back out to that No. 3 tee box, remind Knost that a nation of golf fans' TV interest hangs in the balance, and … give that man a mulligan!

Where do we go from here?

Ladies and gentlemen, we present the Kevin Na Open!

Whoops, I mean the Valero Texas Open – which will forever be remembered for Na's "16" on the par-4 ninth at TPC San Antonio last year. It was hard to tell which was more impressive – how he handled the situation with good humor, or how he counted all his strokes.

Jim Nantz reported that Na is scheduled to take part in a brush-clearing of No. 9 this week, which some people would call "venting." Thank goodness for Na, as he gives a storyline to a tournament that doesn't feature many big names. No Tiger, no Phil, no Rory – but the potential of a "16" on a hole should entice golf fans from coast to coast.

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