Monday, March 30, 2009
We've been waiting for it for the entire NCAA Tournament, and we've been waiting for it the entire PGA Season. This weekend our wait ended. We got the game that defined the NCAA Tournament in Villanova's last second win over Pittsburgh, and we got Tiger's first win since coming back from knee surgery at the Bay Hill Invitational. Both wins were very dramatic and seemed to echo wins of the past for both Villanova and Eldrick .
Tiger Woods did not look quite back to prime form this weekend; but just like last year, he broke out of a tie on the 18th hole by draining his final putt. While Tiger did not strike the ball especially well, he hit great shots when he needed to. Meanwhile, the mental toll his presence took on Sean O'Hair was evident the entire round. On the last hole, O'Hair's caddie was pleading with him to talk about the next shot and it was clear O'Hair was totally rattled and acting like a little brat. I can't imagine ever playing with Tiger. I would be completely wrapped up in everything that he did and would not be able to focus on my own game at all. I would probably just resort to the John Daly strategy of crushing beers and taking off my shirt. I might even invite an overalled Kid Rock to be my caddie. While Tiger may not be 100%, the effect he has on the field is very evident. His gamebreaker always seems to be full, and he always seems to have Tiger Vision when he needs it. These two things definitely worked to his advantage on the 18th hole yesterday.
In Boston, Villanova woke up the echoes from 1985's unlikely championship season to knock off favorite Pittsburgh at the last second on a Scottie Reynolds lay up. While I had Villanova going to the Final Four knew that Pittsburgh was vulnerable, Villanova should not have won this game. Not in regulation at least. The long bomb inbounds pass when Nova was ahead by two with 10 seconds left was about the dumbest thing I have ever seen. They had gone 22-23 from the foul line at that point. Why risk a turnover like that? The only explanation I can come up with is that the inbounds passer was nervous about getting the ball in within 5 seconds and just chucked it. In criticism of Pittsburgh, there is no reason they should have pressed after Lavance Fields hit the two foul shots to tie the game. This is what allowed Scottie Reynolds to coast down the court and hit the lay up in the lane. Had Pittsburgh fallen back and picked him up at half court with some sort of a trap Reynolds would have never gotten such a good look. The stupidity of Villanova was offset by the stupidity of Pittsburgh on the very next possession and allowed the Wildcats to win the game. After watching "The Perfect Upset" on HBO yesterday, I couldn't be more psyched about one of my hometown teams going up against the Tar Heels. They are ready to schock the world. If Nova faced UConn in the finals I would be more torn than Natalie Imbruglia.
With just about everything going to plan in this year's NCAA Tournament, it was very good to see what I consider to be a huge upset in Villanova's win over Pittsburgh. The win conjured up images of Rocky Balboa, Vince Papale and Ed Pinckney in the minds of Philadelphians everywhere. Also, it is good to see Tiger return to the winner's circle in the PGA. While Tiger's absence was good in that it allowed for other players to step up, it was enjoyable to watch how he can will himself to victory once again. This weekend's wild finishes were very exciting and gave both the PGA Season and the NCAA Tournament a real shot in the arm.