THE U.S. OPEN, IN THE YEAR 2009 — “Well, Jim, as we begin today’s final round, this golf championship has certainly lived up to its billing.”

“It sure has, Ben. The leader board says it all. A challenge between the old guard and the new.”

“Speaking of that old guard, here’s the ageless Tiger Woods ready to tee off. He’s tied for the lead, and, man, he’s like Father Time, isn’t he? He just keeps going.”

“Look at that tee shot. Remarkable, for a man in his 30s.”

“Wait, Jim, he’s gonna …yes, he’s gonna walk rather than take the cart! Wow! What conditioning!”

“Must be the personal trainer.”

“Um-hmm.”

“Of course, maybe Tiger’s playing head games with his old rival, Sergio Garcia, who is next up.”

“Tiger and Sergio have been fighting each other since the 1999 PGA Championship. Of course, Sergio is no spring chicken himself.”

“No, sir. He just celebrated his 29th birthday. The other golfers gave him a rocking chair.”

“And a razor.”

“Oooh. When the whiskers start coming in, it’s time to think about retirement.”

“Well, Sergio’s not ready to quit yet …look at that …a nice tee shot! Straight down the fairway! Isn’t it great to see the veterans showing flashes of the glory years?”

“Gives hope to all us aging duffers.”

“Remember the old days, Jim, when 29 was considered …young?”

“Not really, Ben. I’m only 20 myself.”

“Right.”

“This is ESPN6, you know.”

“Good point. OK, next up is the defending Masters champion, Stevie Sudstrom, from Sweden.”

“He’s 16 years old.”

“He’s been around all right.”

“As he goes for his tee shot, he makes his signature move.”

“Pulling the Walkman headphones over his ears.”

“There’s his girlfriend, cheering him on.”

“The one with the pom-poms?”

“That’s her.”

A teenager’s entourage

“Next up is the leading money winner on the tour this year, 14-year-old Bobby Schantz, from Hilton Head.”

“A lot of people thought Bobby would lose his concentration when he signed that $300 million deal with Nintendo.”

“Guess he proved them wrong, huh, Jim?”

“Well, how many Gameboys can one kid buy?”

“And Bobby smacks one down the fairway, 430 yards. Great shot.”

“Of course, Bobby isn’t old enough to drive the golf cart.”

“But his mother is right there for him, as usual.”

“Been driving him since he joined the tour.”

“Carpools some of the other golfers, too.”

“Always checks their seat belts.”

“Wonderful story.”

“Sure is, Ben.”

“OK, now stepping up to the first tee is one of the big stars of this golf year, the 11-year-old rookie sensation, Timmy Jones from Australia.”

“He’s already won the British Open.”

“And he was leading the Bob Hope Desert Classic going into the final day when, as we all remember, he was forced to pull out.”

“Terrible break.”

“Problem with his braces.”

“Chewing gum, wasn’t it?”

“Saltwater taffy.”

“Right. Damn shame.”

“And Timmy whacks a beauty …ooh, baby, that may reach the green …it does! Five hundred yards, from the tee! Incredible!”

“Look at his entourage, cheering him on. There’s Mom and Dad, his coach, his masseuse, his agent …say, who’s the attractive blonde? His girlfriend?”

“Baby-sitter.”

The power of Barney

“Well, folks …you hear the crowd now …you can tell by the roar, it’s the story of the golfing year …that’s right. Eight-year-old Hans Clubber, from Hamburg, Germany, is stepping to the tee.”

“He sure has set the game on fire, hasn’t he?”

“Well, for one thing, he’s the only guy out there who wears plus-fours as long pants.”

“And then there’s the story of his father, who began grooming Hans for greatness while he was in the womb.”

“Painted his wife’s stomach green and put a small flag in her belly button.”

“Had her roll around in tall grass, so the kid would be used to the rough.”

“And it’s paid off handsomely. Young Hans has already won three times on the tour this year. Sadly, he missed the Masters.”

“Spelling test.”

“Right. Hans lines up his tee shot …and …ooh, tough break for the kid. He’s hit it into the water.”

“And you hate to see this happen …uh-oh …Hans is having a tantrum.”

“He’s burst into tears.”

“He’s stomping around the tee. He’s overturned his bag. Now he’s throwing the clubs. Oh, this is ugly.”

“Here comes his mom to console him.”

“It’s gonna take more than that, Jim.”

“You’re right. She going for . . .”

“You got it. The Barney doll.”

“Works every time.”

“Whew. That was close.”

“Crisis averted.”

“Well, now. Those are your leaders, folks. We hope you’ll stay with today’s U.S. Open

broadcast. And as always, we hope to get the full round in. It depends, of course. There’s always that one intangible.”

“Weather?”

“Bedtime.”

MITCH ALBOM can be reached at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com. Catch
“Albom in the Afternoon” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).

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