Chapel Hill Treehouse

A decidedly mixed bag of musings by andrew reynolds, professor of political science at UNC Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Sunday, April 23, 2006

obessions/hobbies #1 Henrik

As I watch from the treehouse screened porch, Atticus and Maddy return from a gruelling scavenger/easter egg hunt guided by prosaic clues and crossword puzzle answers. With candy and money (yes bribery with change) in hand they return with the mud of the vegetable garden on their sandals and no doubt the poison of ivy on their skin...ah but the joy of being 10 and 8 and having to work as a team with your brother/sister.

I myself, am distracted by Henrik on my "tour-cast" shot tracker which lets me follow Henrik (as a tiny little stick figure) around the Houston golf course in the final round of the Shell Houston TX open. As he hits his shot ("Henrik Bjornstad has hit shot 3, 254 yards to the 'unknown'") the little red man that is H spins his little legs and walks through the lush green that are the computer graphics of hole #8.

My thought in the winter was to embrace the need for compulsive obsessions and channel such genetical inevitabilities into manageable and non-destructive adictions - err, I mean 'hobbies.' So alongside my obsessive interest and passion for Dr. Mosley, Henrik is coming a close second (although with stiff competition from my vegetable garden, Norwich City Football Club, winning the 35-39 age group 5 and 10k races, and all things Burmese).

But anyway, back to Henrik. Last December I scanned the entrants to the PGA's qualifying school and chose a player (almost at random) and vowed that if he made it through the Q-school to the tour I would originate his fan club and follow him in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. Mr. Henrik Bjornstad - the wonderfully named 'Henry Beartown' - was chosen in part because of my Scandinavian links and the fact that, if successful, he would be the first Norwegian to play the US PGA tour. In a land where the snow makes golf only possible about 3 days a year I thought the boy deserved some support.

Henry of Beartown did not disappoint. Placing a worthy 10th in the notoriously tense 6 round Q-school and earning his card at the first attempt.

Then the fun really began. I felt I was the *only* one tracking him (outside of 8 million inhabitants of Oslo) in his first PGA tournament in Hawaii where he made the cut, tied for 59th and won almost $11,000...enough to celebrate and eat herring with the Norwegian cross country skiing persuit team (womens). But then the Beartown Cubs fan club-Chapel Hill Branch almost jumped through the skylight as he tied for 10th at the Buick Invitational (earning 3/4 of a million Norwegian Kroner - yes 750,000 K!) and followed that up with a 12th place the next week at the FBR open (another $109,000). Since then Henrik has cooled off a tad -- missed 3 of the last 7 cuts - but I still remain loyal and follow every little stick figure whack on my computer screen Thursday, Friday (and if Henry is playing well) Saturday, Sunday too.

To my chagrin I still haven't seen Henrik in person (on TV) as yet. For a brief moment before he saw the leader-board he was leading the Buick with 10 holes left in the tournament but NC State-Wake Forest hoops had gone into overtime and so there was no way CBS was going to switch to Norwegian golf on a Sunday afternoon -- this is, of course, ACC country. The only other hope I had was to spy him in the Peeble Beach Pro-Am - and the TV did indeed show his group, it was just that they showed Carson Daly, his celebrity partner, and nada of the man from Beartown - oh the ignomy of it all.

So alls I know is that Henrik is 26, a former carpenter, hits the ball a bloody long way, tends to be streaky in his putting, and has developed a worrying tendency to find every patch of water on every par 5 from Florida to Texas. Once day his fame will grow and I shall no longer feel the same type of ownership, but for now I am happy to be a fan club of the Power of One.

If you would like to be added to the list of Beartown Cubs let me know. HB's flag, photo and stats are here:

I intend to offer more commentary Thurs-Sun when appropriate during the season.

As Michael O'Hanlon might note- in a nice NTY Op-Ed Graphic:

Beartown Watch Apr 16, 2006
Highest position: T10th
Money list: 71st
Prizewinnings: $347,551
Official World Golf Ranking: 291
American fan club membership: 1 (unless of course there are competing civil society groups I am unaware of).


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At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well mused Andrew. Your blog has now been discovered in Norway, where we also have to be satisfied with little stick men.

To add to your Beartown fund of knowledge, you may like to know that his home town is also the official (Norwegian) residence of St. Claus.

all the best,


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