Remembering the (British) Open

Posted: July 24, 2012 in sports

The British Open left some lasting impressions and emotions.

In no particular order:

  • Ernie Els is a worthy champion. In my experience of covering golf, Els truly is one of the good guys and a great player. He has had more than his share of ups and downs on and off the field and he has handled all of them with class. Only a few years ago his career looked all but over. He rebounded briefly and then slumped again, so badly that he didn’t qualify for this year’s Masters. Now he has put himself in rarified air, being one of a handful of players to win both the U.S. and British Opens twice and winning majors in three different decades.
  • Tiger Woods, who finished tied for third, is still the best golfer in the world, but he isn’t the Tiger we watched for a decade. The best way I can say it is he’s lost his magic. It used to be when he was off his game he still found ways to win. Now, Good Tiger is still great but Bad Tiger is just another player struggling to make the cut or win under major championship pressure. Where he once seemingly willed his ball around the course and into the hole, he now plots his strategy likes a man unsure of his ability.
  • Adam Scott choked. Plane and simple, he succumbed to the pressure. His collapse of bogeying the last four holes goes down as perhaps the greatest choke job in modern major championship golf history. It certainly ranks up there with Ed Sneed bogeying the last three holes to lose the 1979 Masters; Rory McIlroy’s final round 80 in the 2010 Masters; Greg Norman blowing a 6-shot lead to lose the 1996 Masters; Jean Van de Velde’s final hole triple bogey at the 1999 British Open. Choking has played a major role in many major championships and Scott has assured himself a place in history. Now the question is how will the extremely talented 32-year-old Aussie handle his collapse? Will bounce back quickly as McIlroy did? Will he disappear from leader boards as Sneed did?
  • We’ve may have seen the last of Phil Mickelson as a regular major championship contender. Yeah, I know he won a PGA tour tournament earlier this year at Pebble Beach, but he suddenly appears to be a fading superstar. Has age, illness, family needs and untold riches finally sapped his energy and desire to be among the game’s top handful of players? Has the influx of so much young and international talent exposed his weaknesses? At the Open he not only played poorly, he looked a bit disinterested. I hope he has a few more major championship runs left in him, but I doubt he does. 
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