When I heard about this book, I tho't "Huh, I know just what to say, without even reading it!" But that was when I tho't it was about 2009 . . . nay, it's about 2003 . . . I had to go back and look this up, from wikipedia, natch . . .
yeah, well, I do see it's easier to make a case for 2003 being the Year of the Underdog, rather than 2009 (Angel Cabrerra - well, I mean, yeah!), especially after Tiger had won a Major every year between 2003 & 2009 . . . so what am I looking for in such a review . . . there must be something timeless to say about the ineffable, intractable Nature of Golf that only the Lives of Underdogs can reveal to us, and who better to do that than John Feinstein?
Well, plain and simple, it falls short -- and I'm not saying that was Feinstein's aim, only that I don't know why I would read about these champions in this year, otherwise -- I admit I was confused why it seemed to fall short until I read the Acknowledgements at the end of the book:
- He wanted to do different book with Rocco Mediate and "his remarkable US Open experience at Torrey Pines" (a mano a mano with Tiger, in 2009), while it was "hot", and,
- He had a septuple bypass (that WILL slow a boy down, won't it . . . 8^0 . . .)
I do not want to give the impression (from information I do not have) that Feinstein did not give this book his best effort. That he finished it at all, years later, with the aforementioned delay rationales shows his professional Journalism.
It's all very workmanlike and "obligated" rather than inspired, and it just felt like 350 pages of "difficult" interviews: defensiveness from the champions mixed with the sort of platitudinous drivel that media conscious public figures rely on to avoid gaffes or faux paux; plaintive optimism from the runners-up, determined not to whine or what-if.
In short, there was a story to be told, events did happen, but from the premise that Tiger's self inflicted machinations left a vacuum filled by these guys, champions and runners-up alike, bless their hearts, it was apparently too difficult to make the story compelling.