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Golf columnist Lorne Rubenstein. (Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail)
Golf columnist Lorne Rubenstein. (Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail)

USUAL SUSPECTS

Lorne Rubenstein making his final round Add to ...

Please excuse the familiarity, but we come to praise Lorne Rubenstein. The Globe and Mail’s nonpareil golf writer the past 32 years has decided to putt out after the RBC Canadian Open this month. Yes, Rube will be retiring from the paper to enjoy his expanding family, dabble in whatever catches his fancy, and play host to his annual Roobie-Doobie charitable tournament for the Dennis Waldman Foundation.

It’s hard to exaggerate Lorne’s impact on promoting the sport in Canada, but in his Globe column, his work with ScoreGolf magazine and his many excellent books, his name became synonymous with golf in the country. Rube has collaborated on books with George Knudson and Nick Price and his most recent release is about his long friendship with the late Moe Norman. A man who contemplated the swing the way Hawking contemplated the universe, Lorne was also a fine player, having played at a competitive level as an amateur.

He covered the sunset of Jack Nicklaus, the prime of Greg Norman and the rise of Tiger Woods. He’s brought lucidity and humour to a sport that can defy charisma. He has even bowled in Mark Calcavecchia’s private lanes at this home in Florida. Now, his body of work stands with that of his inspiration, Herbert Warren Wind.

“I always said that when I couldn’t get excited about a major [tournament] then I’d know it was time to go,” Rubenstein said. “But when I got to the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club [last month], I just found I couldn’t get engaged with the pro game any more. It was an easy decision to make that way. If I’m not engaged in the subject it’s not fair to the readers and to the paper.

“I’ve had a fantastic relationship and opportunity with the Globe these past 32 years, and I’ve had the chance to cover the greatest people in the sport. It has been very special. I might do some work down the road depending on my engagement with the material. But for now it’s time to move to the next phase of my life.”

When you travel with Lorne, everyone from golf immortals to course superintendents seems to be his friend. He’s on a first-name basis with Nicklaus and nobodies. In our case, we met Rube back in the early 1980s when he took a young editor to the old Uplands golf course in Toronto to discuss a magazine article we’d assigned him. Over the years his friendship and insight have found us together on golf courses and press conferences across the continent.

Our only miss was in not playing together at Lorne’s beloved links, Royal Dornoch, in northern Scotland, the subject of perhaps his best book, A Season in Dornoch. We’ll see you back in the clubhouse, Rube.

Free-agent fuzzy

And the winner of first scoop on Free Agent Frenzy Day 2012 was … TSN, which stunned the hockey world with news that the Phoenix Coyotes reached an agreement with David Moss at 12:41 p.m. (Eastern), and followed it up with Jonas Gustavsson moving to the Detroit Red Wings moments later.

Okay, you can only work with the material provided.

TSN had all hands in studio for the disposition of the unrestricted free agents and trade speculation on Sunday. There were also reporters in all Canadian NHL cities to update the action. Which was, as usual, a little spotty in the early hours. Pierre McGuire was talking no prisoners, describing Alex Semin as the ultimate “coach killer.” Analyst Marc Crawford called Semin “a complete loser.” Host James Duthie, with the line of the day, asked if rejected Montreal Canadiens coach candidate Crawford was still keeping up his French lessons. Hilarity ensued.

What was notable about Sportsnet’s coverage on Sunday was its studio-only focus – maybe they knew no one would show up at Zach Parise’s agent’s office in Mississauga? After declining to send its entire hockey panel on the road for the Stanley Cup final or the NHL draft, there is also discretionary travel only across the Rogers media sports chain. Must be to pay for Bob McCown and Nick Kypreos (whose contract is up).

Seriously, Rogers has to ante up its share of the $1.32-billion purchase price for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, plus keep a little jingle-jangle back to pay for those big Toronto Blue Jays acquisitions at the trade deadline (cough).

Disappointment

Canada’s Olympic hopes this summer in London were not going to be as bountiful as they were at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. That was before the double raised takeout of Perdita Felicien and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep in the hurdles final at the Canadian Track and Field Trials in Calgary. The loss of two of the limited bona fide medal hopes is a dent for CTV/Rogers plans to hype the London Games in the middle of summer.

Props to CBC for its coverage of the Olympic trials when it doesn’t have the rights to London. And for sorting through the chaos that followed the DQ mess and Jessica Zelinka’s surprise win in the hurdles after also winning the heptathlon. Lots of emotion and controversy to surmount to get the story straight.

 

Anyone home?

Very strange sight on Saturday when weather conditions in the Bethesda, Md., area forced PGA Tour officials to close the course at the AT&T National. Looked like Q-school as the players moved around the empty setting. Just a hunch but Tiger Woods probably liked the Cone of Silence, although his caddy did seize a Golf Channel camera just to stay in practice.

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