Sprains, Fractures And 5 Irons
I had quite the full weekend. I threw my back out on Thursday while I was in my crawl space installing electric and broadband lines for a computer relocation. It was sort of like if John Wayne Gacy worked for AT&T or Comcast. I didn’t wear my clown suit, though. Then on Friday I drove to Charlotte to watch my brother in law; J.P. Hayes play in the PGA tournament. It was a smart move; walk around a hilly golf course for 4 hours immediately after a back injury. No amount of Motrin in the world could make me feel better on Saturday, and believe me, I tried. I twisted my back pretty good getting in and out from under the house, but it didn’t feel too bad. I had injured my lower back once before when I was younger and remember it being a painful injury with a slow heal time. Can’t wait to see how the sequel turns out. Walking around the golf course on Friday actually helped stretch my back out and made it feel better, or so I thought. I’m fine while I’m mobile, but once I sit down to rest, or worse; lay down in bed to sleep for the night, my back seizes up tighter than a T-shirt vendor at a Taylor Swift concert. The bad part is that I still have some crawling and bending left to do to finish the computer move. Better go to Sam’s and buy the tub of Doan’s Pills.
I almost didn’t make it out of the house on Friday morning. NukeMom was home because she had fallen on Thursday and fractured her hand and NukeGirl woke up sick to her stomach. NukeMom forced me out of the house and said that they would be fine. I’d tell you more about NukeMom’s fractured hand, but I don’t want my back injury to get any worse. That splint could cause some damage. I got to the course just in time to catch J.P. as he started his second nine holes. His group played the back nine first, so I got to the 1st hole just in time. He was already 3 under par for the day (1 under for the tournament). “Whoa! He’s already 3 under?” I asked the sign bearer. “Yep, but he had 4 birdies. He bogeyed 18″ the sign bearer told me. Great. Right when I get off the bus he gets a bogey. I haven’t always been good luck for J.P. when going to watch him play. I thought that maybe I should just go get back on the bus right then. Of course, I’m a lot more superstitious than he is. He played lights-out the rest of the way and got 5 more birdies coming in. He tied the course record with an 8 under 64, just barely missing a birdie putt on his final hole to score 63 and take the record outright. Any of you who watched on Sunday know that it would have been a moot point anyway as a 20 year old Irish kid named Rory McIlroy broke the course record by 2 shots and shot a 10 under 62 to win the tournament by 4 shots. It was amazing to watch. He’s already ranked in the top 10 in the world and he’ll only turn 21 on Tuesday. An Irish Tiger Woods? Maybe. Let’s just hope there aren’t a lot of Waffle House waitresses and porn stars in Ireland. J.P. had a tougher weekend and ended up tying for 38th place. I know he would have liked to finish higher, but he’s having one of the best years of his career and even got into The Players Championship next week; a tournament he’s performed well at and one that I know he’s happy to be in. Over lunch he told me that he was happy that the early success this year will allow him to play less and be home with the family more. Maybe Tiger could take some lessons from a PGA Tour pro who has his priorities right.
Speaking of Tiger, I got to see him in the flesh. It’s not like I sought him out, he just happened to be coming out to practice before his round shortly after J.P. had finished. I was waiting near the clubhouse which was also near the practice green. It was a real bottle neck and the growing crowd didn’t help matters. The tournament volunteer trying to keep the area clear was losing his religion trying to keep people out of the way. To make matters worse, Phil Mickelson was 2 groups behind J.P.’s group and would be coming in soon also, so you had Tiger fans and Phil fans all gathering in the same place at the same time. It was kind of like West Side Story without the music. Or The Crips and The Bloods if gangsters played golf. Everything was fine, of course, as we all know that golf fans are much more civilized than, say; English soccer fans or Justin Beiber concert go-ers. When Tiger finally appeared there was an army of police officers around him and Lord knows how many private plain-clothes private security in the crowd. I’m pretty sure the guy who elbowed me in my injured back as he quickly brushed past me was private security. I was fully expecting someone to yell out; “Text me, Big Boy!” or, “Let’s go get some waffles!” because I didn’t want to be the one to have to do it, but alas, no one did. He actually got a very cordial reception; probably more than he deserved, and more than he was expecting, judging from the look on his face. He looked apprehensive, almost terrified. He was staring at the ground trying to be inconspicuous, but once the cheers started and he realized ti was all positive, he looked up and acknowledged the crowd. Right before I lost sight of him, I saw him actually crack a smile. He looked completely out of sorts on Friday, though, as he played terrible and missed the cut for only the 6th time in his career. Ouch. I did see one picture of a woman who was none too happy with him giving him a thumbs down sign and I heard that one fan was ejected for a lewd comment. So it goes. A few minutes after Tiger walked by, Phil Mickelsons group came in and the crowd went crazy. Stewart Cink came by, Jim Furyk, Zack Johnson, Kenny Perry, Padraig Harrington and a host of other Tour pros walked by while I was there. When J.P. finished up in the press tent we went to get his car to go eat lunch. Fred Couples walked by and gave J.P. a hello nod and me a “Who the hell are you?” look.
Before I left town I was able to go and see my old friend Paul from El Paso. He’s not the same Paul I wrote about here, he’s another Paul. Let’s call him Ranger Paul since he was one of the first Army Rangers to hit the ground after parachuting into Panama during the invasion in 1989. He’s cleaned up real nice for a kid who used to always smell like BBQ. Well, I guess we all smelled like BBQ back then, you could just drive by The State Line (where we worked) and end up smelling like a brisket. I remember the day he told me he was going to enlist thinking; “What is he thinking?” But he had his plan all worked out, and he executed it flawlessly. He served 4 years as a Ranger in the Army, used his GI bill to get an accounting degree from UTEP, got his law degree from SMU and retired as CEO and President from his company the very day I showed up at his doorstep. At the age of 43. Bastard. Just kidding, Ranger Paul was always the one with the plan. He’s going to take the summer off and then explore his options. Sounds just like me, but with more options. He told me about the 20th reunion he had attended to commemorate the Panama invasion and how one of his former squad mates was in Iraq with our friend Andy when he was killed in action. Andy worked at the State Line with us as well. I wrote about him here. Ranger Paul says according to his squad mate it was a 12 hour fire fight and that Andy was hit about 2 hours into it. It was a one in a million shot that caught him on his side in the one spot where there was no armour. He said that even if they could have gotten a helicopter in there immediately that Andy most likely would have died on the way. Ranger Paul’s wife Stacy and I worked together at the Miller Beer distributorship in El Paso, but she was out of town for the weekend so I didn’t get to see her.
All in all it was a great weekend, if you take out the sprains and fractures. I got to see family and friends and relive a few memories from my ever fading youth. It’s good to get out like this every once in a while. I’ll be doing it again soon.