By Robert Bicknell
OK, we’ll get to the Open Championship in a moment, but first there is the issue of Tiger Woods vs Phil Mickelson head-to-head for US$10 million bucks. Yep, you read that right.
Ten million US dollars.
Of course, this amount of money is peanuts to Tiger and, probably, also to Phil, but he’s a bit more low key about his finances. Tiger is sort of like Rolex and Phil is like Patek Philippe. One is flash and the other is equally expensive, but most people don’t realize it at first glance.
I have heard many comments on line, especially from some of the mainstream golf commentators, who are turning their noses up at the event. They claim it is just a ploy of some kind to generate interest.
Of course it is, but then again so was the Skins Game and, if you really want to go way back, Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf. The latter had two big name players going head to head over 18 holes. We got to see Ben Hogan vs Sam Snead, etc. Great stuff, except we saw how slow the greens were back then. Heck, they must have been rolling at around 6.5 to 7.0 at most.
Which makes me wonder how those old guys would have done on today’s greens which are occasionally blazing fast. Sure, the greens at Oakmont were usually fast, but that was the exception rather than the rule.
Nowadays, most US PGA Tour events have green speeds averaging 12. A few years ago, that would have been US Open speed, but not anymore. Now when we see the US Open, or the Open Championship, we are seeing green speeds that border on Augusta National speeds.
Anyway, back to the Tiger vs Phil event.
Personally, I think it’s a good thing, especially if they are playing for their own money. They shouldn’t accept sponsorship for it. Sure, accept sponsorship and earmark 100 per cent of it for charity, but the $10 million should come out of their own pockets.
That might make them sweat a bit.
Whenever we see the big names in a tournament, they really are playing for pride more than anything else. They’ve got millions in the bank and money rolls in from sponsorship and endorsements every day, regardless of their finish in the event. Heck, for most of the big names, the winner’s check doesn’t even cover fuel for their plane, plus accommodations that week.
They’re not under any real pressure. But, if they had to pay money out of their own pockets, that is a completely different story.
So, if they do it as I suggest, then I think it would be really fun to watch. In fact, I think the PGA Tour should bring back head to head competitions like in the old days. I think there would be a good market for it. Especially if they are mic’d up.
OK, onwards to the next upcoming major, the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, aka “Carnasty”, a venue reputed to be one of the hardest on the Championship rotation, playing 5.82 shots over par in the last Open.
If you don’t believe me, just ask Jean Van de Velde… remember him?
Leading the Open in 1999 by three shots coming to the 18th tee. All he needed was a par or even a double bogey to clinch the win and be the proud holder of the Claret Jug, but noooo.
I was actually about to turn off the TV, thinking he won it, but then I saw him take out his driver and thought, “uh-oh”.
Suffice it to say it was like watching a slow motion train wreck. In the end, he walked off with a triple bogey and lost in the play offs to Paul Lawrie.
Carnoustie can be grouped with Royal Lytham and Royal Troon, where common wisdom dictates players make a score on the way out and try to hang onto it on the way back. That’s sometimes impossible on Carnoustie’s last four holes, especially, the 18th.
With tight fairways, murderous bunkers and the usual Scottish weather, Carnoustie is ready and waiting to take on the best players in the world.
So, get the popcorn ready, this year should be really fun to watch. — VNS