Minnesotans have had a rough sports year. Our teams have fired two general managers, won zero playoff games and gotten stiffed by a teen idol (Ricky Rubio) and a graybeard idler (Brett Favre).
This week, though, we get a chance to revel, to shine, to show off.
Minnesota teams don't win many major championships, but we can celebrate one this week, as the 91st PGA Championship graces our suburbs.
We are well equipped to host a golf major. Hazeltine National is a big, brawny, beautiful course. Minneapolis, if you believe polls, features more golfers per capita than any other American city. Our golf fans and volunteers have drawn raves from the seniors who venture here for the 3M Championship.
With any luck, we've saved one of our good-weather weeks for the PGA Championship. (Our other good-weather golf week, if you don't remember, was July 5-12, 1988.)
The field that will contest the PGA Championship this week is unparalleled in depth, featuring 100 of the top 101 players in the world, and that doesn't include Rich Beem, who held off Tiger Woods at the 2002 PGA at Hazeltine.
We may never see Rubio or Favre in Minnesota, but for a week we get to watch Tiger, the most iconic athlete of his generation, dissect one of our most difficult courses.
"This really is a great moment for us,'' said Mike Barge, Hazeltine's director of instruction. "I just saw the preview that CBS has, and they talked about Minneapolis having the most golfers per capita in the country, and how, even with the short season, people really support the game here.
"I wouldn't be surprised, even tomorrow, to see a bunch of people out here. Even the golfers mentioned that, 'Boy, I can't believe even on a Monday how many people show up to see this kind of stuff.'
"It's a tribute to the game. It's a chance to see the best players in the world, who don't get to come here that often. I'm just glad Hazeltine has a venue that allows us to do this.''
Sunday, as workers tried to repair rain-scoured bunkers and polish up the course, Beem wore a white, floppy hat and did what most of us would do if they got to play Hazeltine from the tips: He hit a lot of mulligans.
"I've hit six,'' he told the people watching him on the 11th tee. "Now I'm gonna hit two more.''
A handful of golfers were hitting balls on the practice range or touring the still-soggy course Sunday. While Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington dueled at Firestone, Beem shared Hazeltine with some of the lesser-known players who qualified for the PGA.
Mike Small, the golf coach at Illinois, won the 2009 PGA Professional National Championship. He was looping draws with a long iron on the range Sunday while Beem was playing the course.
When Beem finished his eighth drive on No. 11, he called another golfer, Kevin Roman, onto the tee box. "Good to meet you,'' Beem said. "Where you from?''
Roman, who grew up in New York state, is playing in his first major since 1993.
While PGA club pros, longshots and the 2002 PGA champ were practicing at Hazeltine, Woods was winning the Bridgestone Invitational for his 70th career victory.
Woods, who usually does not play the week before a major championship, is without a major victory this season.
His surge, and his striving for majors, is only one of the attractive story lines this week at the big golf course wedged between Hazeltine Lake and the Home Depot.
Tiger could continue his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors. Woods has 14.
Phil Mickelson, whose wife, Amy, is recovering from breast cancer surgery, will become a sympathetic favorite.
Harrington, who took an 8 on the 16th hole Sunday and handed Woods the victory at Bridgestone, will defend his PGA Championship while trying to win his first tournament of the season.
The Beemer will try to reprise the least-athletic victory dance in sports history.
What is wonderful about golf majors is that something dramatic will happen every day, if not every five minutes, and this week the setting for all that suspense will be a beautiful course in a state that loves golf, whenever the weather allows.
Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. • email@example.com