The Masters

Like most golf fans I was realllllly looking forward to the fall Masters. Seeing Augusta National under different conditions than we’ve ever seen it before and without any fans was a dazzling concept. And in practice it turned out to be pretty damn cool.

I was surprised, though, that I didn’t get fully immersed in the tournament. Sure, I had it on a lot, but I wasn’t glued to the screen the way I would have been in April. I watched plenty of golf, but I can’t recount tons of details the way I can with, say, the 2019 tournament because my attention was always divided or I was taking breaks to go knock out errands (or buy a car or coach a game).

I wonder if some of that disconnect is because the Masters falling in early April is always a sign that spring is about to arrive. It’s a gift for surviving winter and starts to awaken thoughts of what activities warmer weather will allow.

Last weekend, while it was great to have the Masters, it was also a reminder that we’re about to go inside for several months. That the pandemic is getting worse every day. That our distractions from the generally awful state of the world are disappearing. This Masters was the last moment of a probably too-open fall before we slide into a locked-down winter.

I was glad Dustin Johnson finally put a great weekend together at a major again. DJ is probably the professional golfer that most hacks would aspire to be. He makes the game look so damn easy with his beautiful, powerful, easy swing. He no doubt has the coolest walk in all of sports. And the off-the-course stuff isn’t bad, with Paulina Gretzky as his partner and a huge house with a bunch of toys. His life isn’t perfect, witness his not a suspension suspension a few years back for allegedly failing multiple drug tests.

DJ has that classic “He makes it look easy so he must not really be trying” aura about him. When you add in a few huge meltdowns that have cost him majors, his career is viewed by many to be disappointing. Doesn’t matter that he’s playing in, arguably, the most competitive time ever in the PGA. Or that he’s won 26 total tournaments and over $70 million. A guy that good should have won more, right? Since he is so laid back and not the most eloquent guy in the world, he’s viewed as a bit of a failure.

Which is insane. Look at those numbers again. Twenty-six wins, SEVENTY MILLION DOLLARS. I’m sure he’d like to have a couple of those Sunday rounds at majors back. But that’s still a great career even before adding his second major at Augusta.

The beauty of DJ is I don’t think he cares all that much. Yes, he wants to win, and those losses hurt. But from all accounts by those close to him, he has a very Zen outlook on life and doesn’t get hung up on either the highs or the lows.

I’m hoping this win frees him up a little and he can go on a nice run the next few years and nab 2–4 more majors before his game begins to fade. Now if we could just get Rory McIlroy contending in a major again…

Wichita State

So the Shockers and coach Gregg Marshall agreed to part ways yesterday after a series of reports detailed a long history of Marshall physically and verbally abusing players, his staff, and other Wichita State athletes.

Marshall always seemed like an absolute dick. I’ve heard stories from people who know people who would know that he’s an even bigger dick than his public persona suggests. These stories just confirm all of that.

I’m trying really hard to understand how he gets to walk away with $7.75 million. I know lawyers were involved, and someone on the WSU side decided letting him leave with that payout was better than getting into a legal battle. I’m wondering where those lawyers were when WSU was drawing up a contract that didn’t allow them to fire a guy for punching a player. Seems like someone missed a very important clause somewhere.

Just further proof of how messed up college sports are. I know athletics and academics are two different financial silos, but I’m sure those $7.75 million could have been spent much better ways around the WSU campus.

Someone pointed out how when UConn fired Kevin Ollie a few years back, he didn’t get a big, fat payout like Marshall did. That was because Ollie broke some NCAA recruiting rules and got the program placed on probation. So apparently physically assaulting people is just fine since it won’t launch an NCAA investigation.

The sad part is that Gregg Marshall is going to take his $7.75 million, disappear for awhile, and when his agreement allows, emerge having “done some soul searching” with a “fresh new perspective” and some desperate school is going to offer him another truckload of cash to turn their program around.

It’s really a shame he didn’t take the Texas job a few years ago and really mess them up instead of poor Wichita State.