Its Offical: Curling not just for Olympics

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I never thought this column could ever be on the cutting edge of touting a relatively-unknown minor sport.

Though I certainly know that what I wrote about curling a few weeks ago had no impact, it was interesting to see ESPN2 carry the finals of the World&8217;s Women&8217;s Curling Championship round Sunday. The game matched the U.S. ladies&8217; team against defending World and Olympic Champion Sweden. The Swedish ladies earned a one-point win on the final stone, a four-pointer by the Swedish skip, or captain.

The U.S. team had not only held its own but actually led most of the game. The players and crowd were as excited as those at any other sport.

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Speaking of other sports, when teams make The Final Four in the NCAA Tournament, any team can beat any other team. I just did not expect UCLA to make LSU look so bad.

With my eye still under a patch, I can only occasionally glance at TV or use a mirror while looking down into it. (Doctor&8217;s orders are to keep both eyes contemplating my bellybutton!) This has been enough to know if Phil Mickelson stays in the zone at Augusta next week, even Tiger will have a hard time beating him.

I also see Michelle Wie is tied for the lead in this week&8217;s LPGA event. Wie is a great young player and will be a big winner on the LPGA Tour. The press is treating her like the next coming of Tiger Woods, and I am sure that is good for the LPGA Tour..

All three Division I-A state college football teams had big scrimmages or even their spring-practice ending games Saturday. Since several extra officials are generally assigned for each of these sessions, many veteran officials got to knock off the rust and many of the officials of tomorrow got in some game type work and were evaluated in the process.

The spring is the final evaluation time before next season. Though officiating rosters are usually finalized before these scrimmages, that final spring evaluation is very important and can make or break an official&8217;s future at a high level.

There are currently on the active SEC football officials roster at least seven officials who started their major-college officiating careers working scrimmages at LSU.

For many years, I assigned all of the officials for LSU&8217;s fall and spring scrimmages and actually continued to officiate in those sessions well after my retirement from on-field officiating in the SEC. It is fun in the fall to watch some of those guys in action.

What a great finish to the LPGA tournament. Karrie Webb knocked in a 100-yard wedge for eagle to take the lead, then watched Michelle Wie and Natalie Gulbis both barely miss birdies before Lorena Ochoa makes her own eagle to tie and force a play off. I don&8217;t know how it will end up, but it certainly is entertaining!

And that&8217;s official.

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. Reach him at