June 25, 2007

The Amazing What's Her Name

Erica Summerstamp — I may have the name wrong — can take heart in the fact that her achievement of winning 11 times on the LPGA Tour in 2002 is not the first golf streak to be ignored by the public and press. Among other things, there were my three wins in a row over Cecil the Parachute, John the Band-Aid and Moron Tom one week at Goat Hills.

I will discuss some of the other snubbed streaks in golf in a moment. First, in Erica's case, it might have helped with the media, despite the ongoing Tiger Woods mania, if the Swedish lady had ever, somewhere along the way, said something.

Anything. Even spoken through her agent and protector, Marv Steinhinge, or whatever his name is.

"I vant to be alone," is something Erica could've said.

"Like Garbo," her agent could've added.

"Who vas Garbo?" is another thing she could've said. But nothing. Apparently it's one of those things they teach at the LPGA today.

How never to say anything remotely interesting to the press, or better yet, how not to talk at all. Leave the world to the Tiger Woods drones.

Excuse me, I have to take this call.

Sorry about the confusion. I've just been informed that it's Annika Sorenstam, not Erica Summerstamp. And it's not Marv Steinhinge, it's Mark Stonewall, who is also the agent for Tiger Woods at the worldwide firm of IMG (Indescribable Moolah Gusto).

That still doesn't change the thesis, however, which was, as I recall, lost or misplaced accomplishments of semimonumental proportions.

For a prime example, consider none other than Ben Hogan in 1946. Hogan won 13 events that year, including a major, the PGA, but nobody knew about it but me, and I was only in high school then.

This happened because Hogan's 13 victories came immediately after Byron Nelson's immortal year of 1945 when he won 18 times — unofficially 19.

What was a mere 13 compared to 18 or 19, the world asked? Paltry, the world shouted.

Another accomplishment of Hogan's, known only to me and a few close friends, is that he once won six tournaments in a row, the second-longest win streak on record. Ben did it in 1948, a year in which he won 11 in all, and the streak included the U.S. Open at Riviera.

But so what, the world shouted. What was six in a row compared to Byron's 11 in a row in '45.

Speaking of streaks, Sam Snead suffered the same kind of bad luck one time. It happened in 1950 when The Slammer won 11 tournaments and was runner-up in seven others, his most productive season ever. He expected to be named Professional Golfer of the Year, but the voters sentimentally decided Ben Hogan was more deserving — Hogan completed his comeback that year from the near-fatal car crash by winning the U. S. Open.

For years afterward Sam enjoyed saying, "Ben only won once and I won 11 times in 1950, but I forgot to have a car wreck."

Erica — I mean Annika — is probably aware that women's streaks have always received less notoriety.

Babe Zaharias won nine tournaments in 1951, but that was the year Hogan won the Masters and then added the U.S. Open at incorrigible Oakland Hills.

Mickey Wright's remarkable stretch still deserves multiple forehead smotes — she won 10 in '61, 10 in '62, 13 in '63 and 11 in '64 — but unfortunately this all occurred during an intoxicating era of three guys named Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, and they shoved all other golf news into obscurity.

Kathy Whitworth didn't have any better luck in the second half of the same decade. She won eight, nine, 10 tournaments, but it didn't matter because the same three guys swooped the headlines and were eventually joined in the process by Lee Trevino.

This is just history, of course. I don't relate it to point out yet another reason why women want to beat up me and Hootie all the time nowadays.