Golf too tasteful for battle to the death?

Every now and again the Great American Celebrity Machine grinds its gears, pops its clutch, revs its engine and drag races off after yet another cultural abomination that exceeds all the existing speed limits of good taste.

Not long ago Fox TV, the network that holds a mirror to society and never blushes at the reflected images, gave us a boxing match in which Tonya “The Hammer” Harding beat the holy living silicone out of Paula “The Tramp” Jones.

And it made me muse. . .

It made me muse about all the things golf is not. Golf is not tacky. It isn’t even Manute Bol vs. William Perry.

It is not down and dirty. It might be a good walk spoiled, but it rarely is grist for the shameless mills that produce the pulp fiction you see at supermarket checkout counters.

But what if it were?

What if Fox or another network decided golf was where it would next plumb the depths? What bouts would it trumpet? Who would the network lure into the squared circle to settle feuds and correct slights real or imagined?

That made me muse, too. And it made me think that a little dose of Jerry Springer every now and then might not be the worst thing for an ex cathedra game that too often hands its pronouncements down on chiseled granite tablets.

So here at last, by unpopular demand, are the death matches in the world of golf I’d pay to see (predictions included):

PAT BRADLEY vs. DALE REID: Oooooohhhhh!!!! Solheim Cup captains’ catfight revisited. The winner: Reid in an early-round TKO. She may be the meanest-looking woman in golf. Don’t mess.

WALLY UIHLEIN vs. BOB WOOD: Titleist vs. Nike. Is there a new sheriff in town? The winner: Uihlein, the historian, in a split decision by virtue of his knowledge of the rules of the Marquis of Queensbury.

MARK JAMES vs. NICK FALDO: These Brits are at it again on Ryder Cup issues, and Fleet Street is having a ball with it. Frankly, James and Faldo deserve each other. The winner: James. Faldo has lost his edge.

EARL WOODS vs. ERNIE KUEHNE: Kuehne may be the only golf parent alive who can out-talk Earl. Both sired U.S. Amateur champions. The winner: Kuehne in an upset when Earl sneaks smokes in his corner.

DAVE HILL vs. J.C. SNEAD: Senior series. Rematch of storied practice range brawl where other players were rooting for both guys to lose. The winner: Hill. Snead’s trunks catch fire and no one throws water on them.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE vs. PHILIP PRICE: Monty stole Price’s caddie, Andy Prodger, from under Price’s nose. And the Welshman called him on it. The winner: Price. Montgomerie throws in towel after fierce heckling.

EDE “TINY” HARIKE vs. “CHICAGO” JERRY BERLIANT: Tiny is 6-foot-1, 350 pounds and a legendary Masters press room security guard. The annoying Berliant is a world-class gatecrasher. The winner: Tiny squashes Berliant like a bug.

VIJAY SINGH vs. HOOTIE JOHNSON: Masters chairman seeks revenge from the impolitic Fijian who doesn’t like making nice. The winner: Johnson, who stands over the fallen Singh and shouts, “Kiss this, Veej.”

CHARLES BARKLEY vs. TOM FAZIO: “Chuckles” claimed the changes at Augusta National were a racist plot against Tiger Woods. Fazio blanched. The winner: Barkley. As a boxer, Tom Fazio is a terrific course architect.

SEVE BALLESTEROS vs. SERGIO GARCIA: For the heavyweight title of Spain. The aging and bitter mentor against the ingrate protege. The winner: Ballesteros. Sergio has too much lag in his right hook.

DOTTIE PEPPER vs. HELEN ALFREDSSON: Hoo boy!!!! Another catfight with Solheim Cup overtones. And such language from women!! The winner: Pepper. “Alfie” swears like a sailor, but jabs just like a little girl.

JIM STAHL JR. vs. TOM WEISKOPF: Purse: One cent. Weiskopf, a hothead, arrives overconfident and overweight. Bad combination. The winner: Stahl. Weiskopf departs with dulled senses but no dull pennies.

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