The Breakdown: I can’t believe what I saw – no really, I can’t |

The Breakdown: I can’t believe what I saw – no really, I can’t

summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
Sports editor Bryce Evans

Sometimes, something that’s too good to be true is, well, actually too good to be true. This seems to happen a lot in sports, lately. We’ll see some middle-aged slugger belting dingers and moving up a few notches on the all-time home run list when most athletes their age are simply adding notches to their belt from eating too many dingdongs. It seems like a great story while it’s happening, then we find out the truth.

It’s awful and it leaves us constantly doubting the accomplishments of athletes. Really, we just can’t believe what we see anymore.

This is one of the things I was thinking about when 59-year-old Tom Watson nearly won the Open Championship this past weekend in Turnberry, Scotland. Had he won his sixth Open, he not only would have tied for the most wins at the championship but would have also become the oldest major winner ever – by 11 years.

Sure, golf isn’t thought of as a “power” sport like football, or a sport that requires sheer athleticism like basketball, but it’s still unimaginable that a golfer can compete against the top players in the world when he’s three years from collecting social security.

You see, Watson’s near win could be an example of golf’s ultimate problem with the “advancement” of technology in sports: equipment.

There’s a reason that, today, 63 players on the PGA Tour average more than 290 yards on their drives. There’s a reason that Tour players hit 215-yard 6-irons and a wedge into 470-yard par-4s. There’s a reason that an average Tour player can spin the ball out of ankle-deep rough like he was hitting off some Southwestern hardpan.

And it’s mostly because of the balls and clubs they play.

As steroids have plagued America’s favorite pastime, new equipment has diminished America’s favorite hobby.

Courses have been forced to add incredible amounts of length just to be able to be considered for major championships. A course like Cherry Hills Country Club outside Denver is now pretty much irrelevant in conversations about the nation’s top courses, despite its pedigree and history. The reason? Yardage.

If that’s not all, the newer balls are so good that they limit the amount of spin put on shots. This keeps wayward shots, especially into the wind, from veering off to far to either side.

Now, I’m not saying that a lot of the top golfers in the world are there because of technology. That’s certainly not the case. My point, though, is that’s the reason that some lesser players can hang around, that a lot of tough courses are now pitch-and-putts, that, today, someone who lost a lot off their game 10 years ago can still compete once in a while.

Was Watson’s run at the Claret Jug more to do with technology than some veteran brass? It’s hard to tell. He’s one of the greatest players ever, and you don’t get put in that type of category unless you are capable of – and have accomplished – great things.

As with a lot of other sports cases, though, it’s hard to believe what we see.

Bryce Evans is befuddled how the Rox are ahead of the Cubs in the standings and can be reached at

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