Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gobbling up the competition

After Tiger Woods won the Bridgestone Invitational by margin of 8 strokes the announcer proclaimed that Woods had "lapped the field." (Yes. I know this was about two weeks ago.) Here's a metaphor that is continuing to move away from its original meaning.

Of course Tiger didn't run one complete extra lap and pass the competition from behind before the race was over. There's really no way for that to happen in golf. But he did beat them easily. Very easily.

What would be a golf analogy to lapping the field? Completing 4 rounds in the same number of strokes that the 2nd place player does 3? That's not going to happen on the PGA. Doing 72 holes in the same number of strokes as the 2nd place player does 71? Close but it's a little too easy. According to the tournament announcer lapping the field is doing 72 holes in the same number of strokes as the 2nd place player does 70. That's about 8 strokes.

I see on the fuzzy horizon a possible shift in the metaphor. Not just a generalization to a sense of winning decisively; I see a new metaphor promising to emerge. If Tiger does this enough we'll start to see some puns on 'lap' becoming more common. 'Lap' will be connected to the way a cat drinks milk from a bowl and 'lap the field' will work as metaphor alongside 'lick' -- tho lick in the context of victory doesn't seem as common as it use to be and the whole thing is actually pretty unlikely. And would it count as an eggcorn if the sound is exactly the same? I think misinterpretations don't count.


  1. I could get behind his 18 hole score being the same as someone else's front or back nine score being "lappish."

  2. Yeah. That makes sense. In even just 1 hole ahead makes sense to me. Especially on a round per round basis. It's just that in golf that's not as much a lead as in track or swimming.

    In this tournament the 8 strokes worked pretty well because he was so far ahead of the field and by exactly two par-four holes.


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