Restless Leg - How the 2014 PGA Ended Like An Emergency Nine
Empty legs. Simple. And no, that does not describe how John Daly managed to consume enough Miller Lites to kill a thousand razorbacks. It was about logistics, money, big business, and private aviation.
Who flies privately these days as it relates to Sunday at a Major? Well, let's see. At least three quarters of the players and their families - check. Top Sponsors - check. Television execs- check. Golf associations' top officials- check. Johnny Miller's Ego- check. (Johnny himself is in business class ordering food and beverages that are "very makeable".)
So here come the last few groups being herded towards the finish like anxious sheep by the toe-tapping border collies disguised as PGA officials. It looked like our own Mr. Luddingsworth III at dusk desperately trying to win a five-dollar back-nine press at Islandwood Country Club for the first time ever. But, I digress.
Private jets (like commercial airliners) are made to be in the air or waiting at a regional airport for as short a period of time possible for its next "leg". An empty leg is when the jet is not in use due to weather, lack of bookings, maintenance, cancellations, delays, or similar inability to get from one place to another.
An empty leg is expensive. Very expensive. If an aircraft is booked fully and properly, an unexpected empty leg affects the next leg, the next leg, the next etc. In that case, there is a scramble to get a plane of the same class (type) for the next few day's and week's private flyers because the plane that is expected to be available for them going forward is sitting on an airstrip with a hundred or so others somewhere near Kentucky.
You get the picture if there was Monday golf action I assume? In private aviation there is rarely a "next flight" you can be squeezed onto. Best case is that you share rides if there's room with someone going your way. Not likely.
So it is getting dark, and all of these mile highers are getting antsy. They may have meetings on Monday, players with a paid appearance or charity tournament, final summer family vacations starting, a board meeting, a tee time, a child's birthday, not wanting to spend another night in the g'dam hotel -- any number of things.
So they allow their expected and desired winner - who only has a thin one stroke lead by the way - to bull rush the 18th and play up on the second to last group. Accomplishing absolutely nothing, and completely throwing off the challengers' rhythm, blowing their minds, and erasing their time advantage.
This only occurs on THE LAST HOLE OF A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP!! Why do that in an event that everyone involved has spent millions of hours and dollars on?
And remember, the winner and his escort is not all that far removed from winning closest to the cul-de-sac on #10 that Sunday at Augusta. Anything could have happened under these circumstances.
Clearly put: Blame it on Private aviation. You could feel it, see it, and it reeked of it.
How the Interim Assistant Golf Coach at Arizona State kept his composure, we'll never know. Not sure he did based on reports from the tent. Look for details of his take in his first book when he gets around to buying Amazon.
One of the first quotes from Rory after the win, pretty much verbatim, was: "I am just happy to get on that plane and be able to get the heck out of here tonight."
Now you know exactly what he meant. And everyone was flying high at 30,000 feet that evening. Except the fans and a small piece of the PGA's integrity.
Tom Clooney, Head Golf Professional