Thursday, October 27 2016


Teed Off (Jul 19, 2015)

Update: July, 19/2015 - 00:21

with Robert Bicknell

Well, by the time this column is printed, the Open Championship at St Andrews should be either or in the last round. My pick last week were for Jordan Spieth, so we will see if I am right for a change.

Following the US Open, almost every pundit claimed Spieth had a zero chance of winning, yet after he won the John Deere and Rory McIlroy pulled out after injuring his foot playing football, everyone jumped on the Spieth bandwagon.

Of course, if he loses, they will conveniently forget they were touting him.

Jordan Spieth does have all the appearance of being the next big thing. In my opinion, he has already supplanted McIlroy as the number one, even though Rory still remains on top due to the convoluted points system. Look, anyone who can win a Masters and a US Open deserves to be considered number one and if he wins the Open, I think there will be no doubt at all.

One concern is that every time the pundits start touting players as the "next Tiger Woods" or the "next big thing", they immediately collapse. This might stem from people inflating the player's head. When you start believing what they write about you, it's a quick fall from the top.

But, why is this a phenomenon and why was Tiger Woods immune from it for so long?

Well, Tiger was groomed for superstardom almost from birth. His golf career was carefully plotted and he viewed being on top as a position which was rightfully his. Thus, when people wrote about him as the second coming, Tiger simply accepted it.

Of course, this mental state of "I deserve it" led him to a huge fall later in an area unrelated to golf. In some ways, this is the same thing Bill Cosby is going through. When you're a star you think that you can do anything and are untouchable.

Sadly, when the people realize the king has no clothes, they turn and rip him to shreds.

Yet, when I see Jordan Spieth, he seems to have a really solid head on his shoulders and knows what his priorities are. For example, many pundits screamed he was insane for playing in the John Deere Classic instead of heading off to Scotland for a preparatory tournament as do most players. However, he played the event because it was the site of the first event he ever won and felt a responsibility to return there. He's a good kid.

OK, so who else was being touted?

Dustin Johnson, of course, is a logical contender, but the problem is that he is so long off the tee that he could be in huge trouble on every hole. The Open Championship is rather unforgiving to people who miss fairways.

Unlike others, I don't believe he "choked" at the 18th hole of the US Open. To me, the putt clearly bounced and, given the pitiful condition of those greens, it seems likely.

So he has a chance, as does Ricky Fowler.

Unfortunately, I don't think Fowler is ready for prime time just yet. He seems to be waiting for something, but lord knows what it is. Sure, he won the Players Championship, but while it's the most important event to Tour players, it still isn't a "major" and those events have a different level of pressure.

Tiger Woods seems to think he can win it and, to be honest, if he keeps his driver in the bag, he might be able to contend. You have to remember that Tiger won the Open at St Andrews once without ever hitting a wood. If he plays smart and keeps himself under control, he has a chance there. But I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

I saw an argument on Facebook about whether it should be called the "Open Championship" or the "British Open" and, to be honest, I prefer the former. It is the oldest championship and should be allowed to stand alone.

Granted, most Americans prefer to win the US Open, and Europeans prefer the Open Championship and everyone wants to win a Masters - which is the youngest of the three, but it's not about age. It's about who was first.

While each major has something unique about it, the Open Championship remains head and shoulders above the rest. — VNS

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