Celebrating Super Bowl XL and great golf moments in Michigan
As the most spectacular annual sports spectacular in the United States, the Super Bowl has earned its haughty right to count its games via Roman numerals. Of course, we should find out the NFL's level of commitment in eight years when we reach the 48th edition - or rather, Super Bowl XLVIII.
This year we celebrate Super Bowl XL (that's Super Bowl 40 to non-Latin-speakers) in Detroit. The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Seattle Seahawks in a game pitting two squads with diverse offenses, assertive defenses and wildly different football histories (the Seahawks making their first appearance, the Steelers four-time champions).
Of course, Michigan golf fans have long known that the Wolverine State is spectacular in its own right, with a diverse and glorious golfing history.
So in tribute to what could be a classic Super Bowl in a classic golf state, here are the Top V (5) Super Bowl and Michigan golf moments:
Super Bowl: Moments from becoming the first undefeated team in NFL history, the Miami Dolphins lined up for a field goal in the closing minutes of Super Bowl VII with a 14-0 lead over the Washington Redskins. Then all hell broke loose.
The kick was blocked, bouncing back to Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian. The tiny kicker's ill-advised desperation pass was intercepted by the Redskins' Mike Bass, who returned it for a touchdown. The Dolphins held on to win the game 14-7, but Yepremian's one and only pass attempt remains one of the most replayed and hilarious moments in Super Bowl history.
Michigan golf: The Jeff Daniels Comedy Golf Jam at the Polo Fields Golf and Country Club in Ann Arbor is an annual benefit for Daniels's Purple Rose Theater and is just about everything you'd expect from one of the stars of Dumb and Dumber.
The popular tournament has likely breathed its last, but in its nine years it gave participants such glorious challenges as the Mud Wrestling Hole (golfers jumped into a bunker to wrestle a female "pro wrestler") and the Battle of Gettysburg Hole, wherein a full-on Civil War re-enactment could explode during a player's approach shot.
Super Bowl: In 1991, down 20-19 to the New York Giants, the Buffalo Bills appeared poised to win their first championship when Scott Norwood, one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL, lined up for a 47-yard field goal. Norwood missed and the phrase "wide right" became a mainstay in NFL vernacular for years to come. It was the first of Buffalo's four consecutive Super Bowl losses, likely an unbeatable record.
Michigan golf: In 1996 at the Michaywe Pines Golf Course in Gaylord, Mich., Pete Green won the Michigan Amateur. Unlike Buffalo, however, Green had a "four-peat" worth bragging about -- the win marked the fourth consecutive decade in which Green has won the tournament.
Super Bowl: In Super Bowl X, the Steelers' Lynn Swann single-handedly destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in one of the best Super Bowls ever played - a 21-17 Steelers win. Swann made three spectacular, acrobatic catches that are still replayed today in a game that saw him catch four passes for 161 years and gather in MVP honors.
Michigan golf: Down by two shots with three holes to play at the 1992 Boyne Tournament of Champions, Michigan's Dan Olsen put together a finish local golfers still talk about today. Olsen finished birdie-ace-birdie to win the tournament by two shots, a performance remembered in these parts as "Olsen's area code" - 313 being a Michigan telephone prefix. Some call Olsen's finish his "area code" -- 3-1-3 (313 is a Michigan phone area code).
Super Bowl: It was the early days of the Super Bowl, when the NFL was still routing the upstart AFL from pillar to post. Super Bowl III, however, saw the AFL's New York Jets taking on the Baltimore Colts. Joe Namath, quarterback for the 18-point-underdog Jets, issues his famous pre-game decree: "We're going to win Sunday. I guarantee it."
The Jets did just that, 16-7, giving immediate legitimacy to the AFL and the Super Bowl and making Namath a legend in the process.
Michigan golf: Jack Nicklaus didn't need to do anything on the Senior PGA Tour to further his legend. Of course, he did, and few accomplishments on the Senior Tour outrank his 1991 Senior U.S. Open victory at Oakland Hills Country Club.
After Chi Chi Rodriguez rallied to tie the Golden Bear on Sunday, a Monday playoff saw Nicklaus shoot 65 to take the title.
Super Bowl: Already a two-time Super Bowl champion, San Francisco's Joe Montana may have laid claim to being the greatest quarterback in NFL history in Super Bowl XXIII, when he led the 49ers on an amazing last-minute drive, culminating in a picture-perfect touchdown pass to John Taylor in the end zone with 30 seconds left to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-16.
Michigan golf: Already a two-time U.S. Open champion, Ben Hogan trailed by five strokes halfway through the 1951 Open at Oakland Hills. Hogan fired a final-round 67 (only one other player broke 70 for the entire tournament) to take the victory. Afterward, Hogan famously told a reporter, "I am glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees."
February 1, 2006