Tabs on Writing

The Business of Business Writing by John Tabellione, Principal at

Penultimate Finish at The Masters

Date: 12 April 2010
Category: Sports, Vocabulary

Who would have dared to write a script for the way the 2010 Masters golf tournament played out this weekend? You had to have ice in your veins not to choke up a bit as the champion, Phil Mickelson, strode off the 18th green to be congratulated by his wife who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Now some sportswriters may try to describe Phil’s drama as a penultimate finish, but that distinction was shared by Robert Allenby, Chad Campbell, and Sergio Garcia, who finished the tournament tied for second last place of those golfers who made the cut, 26 strokes behind Mickelson.

Penultimate is too often misused as some kind of uber-ultimate way of saying the absolute very best because it sounds so authoritative. In actuality its meaning can oftentimes be demeaning: second to the last.

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