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Photograph by Eric "ug" Carlson

Notes From the Underbelly

Sunnyvale Fortunes

By Eric "ug" Carlson


"You have a quiet and unobtrusive nature."
-King Wah fortune cookie

WHILE LIVING in Sunnyvale, five fortunes have danced down Washington Avenue from the King Wah restaurant, arriving with candy wrappers and other trash on the prevailing wind at the lawn in front of my house. Secondhand fortunes are legitimate when discovered in such a manner. The fortunes are a bonus for living in downtown Sunnyvale and almost make up for being roused from sleep at 4am by gas-powered leaf-blowers on Murphy Avenue. I keep meaning to complain about that, but don't have the heart to bitch about men getting up at the crack of dawn to work--even if leaf blowing accomplishes nothing other then adding carbon emissions to the atmosphere. I don't believe for a minute the ugly rumor that the leaf-blowers are a plot to drive downtown residents to Milpitas, thereby facilitating the development of high-density housing.

The fortunes predicted changes in luck, eternal life, beautiful women and a large quantity of Cuban cigars--which I accept with gratitude. But the only thing worth writing about, over long periods of time, is golf. And henceforth this column will be dedicated to golf, and golfers that I hate or love, and courses that inspire wrath or awe. I have written of Sunken Gardens in Sunnyvale, but it is now time to take on the eternal nature of the game, and not just nine holes built in the cavern of an abandoned gravel pit.

The recent unlikely eagle on the 18th hole at Doral by Craig Parry to win the Ford Championship serves as a perfect example of the absolute and total vagary of the game. Upon finding he had won a $150,000 Ford GT as a bonus, Craig responded, "I'm a boat man, myself." Craig is Australian, which might explain his unabashed honesty and rough country manners. Scott Verplank, loser in the sudden-death playoff, has battled worse fortune--he has diabetes--but an eagle holed from 175 yards is a hell of a way to lose, as if God reached down to kiss one's opponent on the lips and shoots you the bird for good measure.

Craig is 5-foot-6 and pleasingly plump. He seems a hearty and hale fellow, but his second victory on tour has addled his noodle. He commented that a second victory "proves" he belongs on tour and "proves" that his first victory wasn't a fluke. I was reminded of Cher's acceptance speech at the Oscars where she announced--with tears--that she finally felt like a real person. Desperately seeking sanction is fine, as is announcing one's arrival as a contender. But Craig decided to roll with his momentum to a point just beyond the sublime. Which is where Johnny Miller comes in.

Johnny is a straight shooter, albeit from the hip. His commentary is droll and truthful, which pisses off many in the golfing community. During the broadcast of the Doral tournament, he made the comment that Craig Parry's swing is so ungainly it would "cause Ben Hogan to puke." Ben had a perfect swing. Ben was lithe and wiry and fluid and rhythmic. Books have been written about Ben Hogan's swing. Buildings have been designed in homage to his swing. Children have been named after Ben Hogan's swing. Craig's swing, on the other hand, resembles a hobbit taking a swipe at a troll. The saving grace of Craig's swing is it is repeatable. He can do it time after time, so he knows where the damn ball is going to go.

Craig didn't respond well to Johnny's comment about Ben puking at the sight of his swing. He has called the PGA tour to complain and says he plans on "confronting" Miller on the subject. One wonders what Craig will say to Johnny's bellybutton. (This is not an attack on short people--I am a short shit myself.) The drama will unfold in the weeks ahead, and this is only one story on the PGA tour.

Future columns will explore the strange case of the Best Player Never to Have Won a Major (BPNTHWM), Phil Mickelson; why being a good family man is destroying the career of Ernie Els; why Martha Burke is an idiot; and why the Masters is the ultimate sporting event--bar none.


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From the March 17-24, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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