with Robert Bicknell
OK, without a doubt, that was the greatest Open Championship that I have ever seen. Unlike the US Open, which relies solely on a tricked up course, the R&A once again allowed nature and the players to provide the fireworks and drama, and they did…
At any given time 5-10 players had a chance at winning the Open and one by one they slowly fell by the wayside until only three were left to playoff and find a winner.
Drama of the best kind.
Unfortunately, Jordan Spieth couldn't get the job done, but showed grace beyond his years in congratulating the eventual winner, Zack Johnson.
Personally, I thought Spieth might have been able to get into the playoff until someone in the crowd started mouthing off as he settled over his delicate approach to the 18th green.
Uncharacteristically, he seemed to let it get the best of him and hit the shot stronger than he wanted to. Granted, his putting all week was less than stellar, but then again almost everyone was having troubles too.
But nobody can blame the greens. They rolled smooth, true and quick.
Paul Dunne, an amateur, was tied for the lead after 54 holes and looked to be a genuine threat to walk off with the Claret Jug, being the first amateur to do it since Bobby Jones back in 1930. Yes, it has been that long. Unfortunately, to win THE Open, you really need to be on your game and have confidence oozing out of your ears. Any weakness and the course will find it and bring you to your knees quite quickly. You could tell the pressure was getting to him in the last round, but the kid showed a lot of moxie and tried his best to hang in there.
Unfortunately, like Spieth, some loudmouth just had to yell and scream before Dunne's shot, resulting in a poor blast over the green.
It's truly sad to see American-style behavior at St Andrews. You would hope that the setting alone would inspire spectators to be on their best behavior. I can only hope that some locals found the loudmouth and beat the crap out of him in some pub after the event.
St Andrews and Augusta National are the two courses which should remain sacrosanct.
If someone acted like that at Augusta National during the Masters, I suspect the Pinkertons' would have him off the property and into the waiting arms of the local police within' seconds. They don't fool around at Augusta National and, even though St Andrews is a "public" course, some things are simply off limits and poor behavior is second on the list (cheating would be number one, of course).
Dustin Johnson also seemed to be on-track for a win until he began to unravel around the edges a bit and, as said, any weakness will be your undoing in the Open.
As for Tiger Woods, not much to say except: When both David Duval and John Daly play better than you, it might be time to re-examine your career goals. Whatever is eating Tiger is not physical, it's purely mental. I said it two years ago and, despite a few instances of hoping for the best, it doesn't look like it is meant to be.
My advice to Tiger is to design a few golf courses, make a few public appearances. Do some good things with his charity foundation and maybe play a few rounds on the Senior Tour for the fun of it. His chance of surpassing Jack Nicklaus record of major wins is nil. Zero. Kaput. Over. Done and dusted. Gone with the wind. Finito. Zilch.
Nobody can stay on top forever. He had his moments of greatness. He left a mark on the game. It's time to hang it up unless he finds a really good psychiatrist. Otherwise, I do not see him coming back…ever.
Lastly, I gotta say that the R&A did a stellar job this year, despite some major wind. They showed the USGA how a tournament is supposed to be run. What the USGA did was an embarrassment to golf. Sure, the course was scenic, but the greens were a disaster.
The USGA might be powerful, but remember the R&A is still the king of the hill and you can always learn something. — VNS