"Golf is a puzzle without an answer. I've played the game for 40 years and I still haven't the slightest idea how to play."
That's from the legendary and controversial Gary Player. It's one of my favorite golf quotes, and anyone who's played the game... recreationally or professionally - for several months or several decades... knows where it's coming from.
Yesterday, like almost everyone else, I was completely expecting Cristie Kerr to win her second US Women's Open. It was a fait accompli... a done deal. When in the end it didn't happen, I thought of the puzzle. The "little bit off" that Cristie described after that final round.
We've all felt at times - on and off the golf course - the inexplicable something that makes things go the way they do. Some of us simply attribute such occurrences to fate, others may look to blame anything they can put their hands on.
When this kind of thing happens at a crucial moment, it can be cruel and extraordinarily frustrating, but it can also be a catalyst for a kind of introspection and analysis that are helpful and positive. That's what Cristie Kerr will take away from this, and she'll be looking forward to working with those puzzle pieces in a slightly different manner the next time around.
Meanwhile, Eun-Hee Ji, the unexpected champion yesterday, provided a breathtaking finish with her 20-foot downhill birdie putt on the 18th green that just slowly... rolled... in. After three bogeys on the front nine and a double bogey on the 10th hole, that shot, and birdies on 13 and 14 were the basis of Ji's dramatic reversal of fortune... and ultimately, her win.
On the lovely Old Course at Saucon Valley Country Club, it was a wildly manic final round that decided the winner of the 64th Women's U.S. Open championship, a round that perfectly fits with Gary Player's idea of golf as a puzzle.