Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This Week in Golf

Front Nine

Hole #1 – Louis Oosthuizen won the 150th Open Championship at the Old Course on Sunday by a whopping seven shots! The 27-year-old South African held the lead alone from Friday afternoon all the way to Sunday evening. He was a long shot to win from the beginning. Even going into the final round holding a substantial lead, many experts and gamblers alike predicted a colossal collapse. But the wee little golfer stood up under the pressure with a swing that produced impeccable consistency and incessant praise from past major champions (Watson, Weiskopf, Strange, Azinger, Goosen). Oosthuizen played an extremely impressive round with what appeared to be nerves of steel. He finished the 72nd hole at sixteen under par for his first major victory.

Hole #2 – Oosthuizen’s impressive performance at St. Andrews concluded on Nelson Mandela’s 92nd birthday. The South African golfer won the Open Championship with a black caddie. Zack Resego, also of South Africa, calls he and his boss the “Rainbow Team.” What a wonderful tribute to Mandela and his efforts to unite all peoples of South Africa. Oosthuizen had other connections to his homeland this week. He played a practice round with Ernie Els the Sunday prior. Louis is a benefactor of the Ernie Els Foundation, which is a charity set up to introduce the game of golf to South Africans in need. Gary Player, the greatest South African golfer, also gave Oosthuizen a pep talk the morning of the biggest round in Louis’ life. Their homeland has now won 20 major championships post-WWII. That is more major victories than any other country outside the United States.

Hole #3 – Rory McIlroy started the week tying the major championship record for lowest number of strokes in a single round, 63. The next day yielded a round of 80 for the young Northern Irishman. The winds on Friday afternoon were devastatingly strong. The R&A even postponed the second round for over an hour because the ball would not stay still on the greens. The 21-year-old McIlroy did not let his unfortunate second round tee time determine his fate. Despite that embarrassing score, Rory roared back over the weekend to finish in the top five. Imagine what a duel Oosthuizen and McIlroy would have had if Rory received an early tee time Friday.

Hole #4 – Paul Casey served as sidekick to Oosthuizen on Sunday. Many, including me, thought Casey would make an early charge that would intimidate the leader into a freefall. However, the Englishman made an early bogey instead. He went on to completely unwind his chances after driving into the gorse on the par-4 12th hole and going on to make a triple bogey. Paul has not been in contention in too many majors, but I expect to see him on the leaderboard in many more majors to come.

Hole #5 – Matt Bettencourt is also a first-time PGA Tour winner from last week. The Reno-Tahoe Open was contested last week opposite the Open Championship. Bettencourt, a relatively new Tour member, won in his 53rd attempt by one stroke over Bob Heintz. Bettencourt made bogey on the 72nd hole, and Heintz missed a final birdie try. 54-hole leader and tournament host Scott McCarron shot 81 on Sunday to finish tied for 35th place. John Mallinger was also in the final pairing Sunday. He fired a 77.

Hole #6 – John Daly made yet another fashion statement while wearing his LoudMouth Pants products. Check out the pic above of JD posing for the official photo at the past champions’ dinner on Tuesday at St. Andrews, site of his 1995 Open victory. Lee Trevino looks as if he wants to throw up. I don’t think even Ron Santo’s Canadian dog would appreciate the design of that sport coat.

Hole #7 – Tiger Woods finished tied for 23rd. He was never much of a treat to the lead even though he grinded out a respectable round in the brutal Friday afternoon wind.

Hole #8 – Phil Mickelson continues to look for a major victory overseas. He tied for 48th after four rather unspectacular rounds around the old lady.

Hole #9 – Tom Watson led the latest sentimental farewell last week. He said goodbye to competition at the Old Course. Late Friday as the sun was setting, he kissed the Swilcan Bridge crossing the 18th fairway and gave the swelling gallery an appreciative wave. Watson nearly won the Open last year at Turnberry for a second time.

Back Nine

Hole #10 – The RBC Canadian Open will be played this week at St. George’s for the first time since 1968. For a couple decades this national championship was hosted by Glen Abbey, but now, they rotate to traditional Canadian sites, which I think is a wonderful idea. Built in the 1920’s, St. George’s is “old school” as Paul Casey tweeted earlier this week. It has mature trees lining each fairway with thick rough that will demand accuracy off the tee. Long par-3’s are also a distinguishing feature of the course with five par-3’s ranging in distance from 210-225 yards.

Hole #11 – The Senior Open Championship is being contested at Carnoustie in Scotland this week. Tom Lehman is my favorite to win. The reigning Senior PGA champion tied for 14th at St. Andrews last week after nearly holing his drive on the last for double-eagle. Instead he tapped in for an eagle 2 to finish off the championship. Lehman receives mixed reviews in Great Britain. He won the hearts of many Brits during his dominating performance at Royal Lytham in 1996 and his Scottish Open victory at Loch Lomond the following season. However, many Europeans were completely turned off to Lehman following his stern defense of the American celebration on the 17th hole at Brookline in the '99 Ryder Cup. Lehman has played well since his PGA win in Colorado. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but tied for 10th at the senior event in Montreal three weeks ago before making the cut at Loch Lomond and St. Andrews.

Hole #12 – Carnoustie is known as the most difficult championship test in Scotland. It demands a lot from every part of a player’s game. Expect to see scores over par on the leaderboard, especially if the wind picks up. Under par even in perfect conditions may be too much to ask. The finishing hole at Carnoustie is the most fun. The Berry Burn broke the heart of Jean Van de Velde in 1999 and created the exciting playoff between Padraig and Sergio in 2007.

Hole #13 – Fred Couples decided to skip the British Opens all together this year. He is in the field at the regular tour event in Canada instead of playing with boys his age in Scotland. As always, I hope Freddy plays great.

Hole #14 – Four of the top twenty players in the world are in Toronto for the Canadian Open. Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Retief Goosen, and Sean O’Hair will all tee it up north of the border. Casey was quite disappointed in his performance last Sunday, but he is playing well. I am going to pick him to win. I think it would be a nice bounceback.

Hole #15 – The Evian Masters is where you will find all the best women golfers this week. The Golf Channel will bring live action from France. Ai Miyazato is the defending champion. I’ll take Natalie Gulbis to nab her first LPGA victory this week.

Hole #16 – Many ex- and future PGA Tour players are teeing it up at tOSU’s Scarlet Course this week in Columbus.

Hole #17 – ESPN will carry the Senior British action while CBS takes care of the young guns in Canada.

Hole #18 – The countdown to the Ryder Cup and PGA Tour Playoffs is on. Tour members will have six more chances to garner points to get into the Playoffs starting at the end of August. Ryder Cup hopefuls have five more weeks to prove to Captains Pavin and Montgomerie that they belong on their respective teams.

No comments:

Post a Comment

[Valid Atom 1.0]