Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Open Championship!

What can I say; I didn’t think we were going to get another incredible performance by one of the elder statesmen of golf this year like we did last year with Greg Norman. Boy was I wrong! 59-year-old Tom Watson showed the world how to play links golf at the highest level for three and half rounds. But unfortunately he was let down by his putter on the back nine and most importantly, on the 18th. He did what he had to do to stay a top of the leader board. He kept the ball in the fairway, he knew he had to land the ball short of the greens and let it run up to the hole and most of the time, he would nail the 3-10 foot putts that can be so difficult on a course like Turnberry. Watson played brilliantly for most of the tournament but just fell short of making his date with destiny.

With two of the world’s best players not playing on the weekend, Phil Mickelson not playing at all and Tiger Woods missing the cut, people were thinking it was going to be a boring finial round. It was anything but! There couldn’t have been more drama on Sunday morning. Watson went out against guys that were half his age and the lead changed several times throughout the day. One by one, the young guys would make a mistake or two and fall off the top of the leader board while Watson stayed steady. He would make a bogey then turn around and make a birdie or a huge par that was as good as gaining a stroke. At the end of the day, it all came down to a 10 foot put on the 18th to win it for Mr. Watson. It was a poor effort and it never had a chance. I don’t consider it a choke but it was clear the emotions of the moment definitely played a role in his stroke. This miss opened the door for Atlanta resident, Stewart Cink. Cink hadn’t lead at any point of the tournament and suddenly found himself in a 4-hole playoff with one of the legends of golf. Watson was looking for his 6th British Open Championship and 9th major while Cink was looking for his 1st major title.

While the 18th hole played out on Sunday, I was on the phone with a friend of mine and we both agreed that if Watson missed his putt and went to a playoff that he would not win. Unfortunately we were right. Not that I have anything against Stewart Cink, I actually like him a lot as a player and I have meet him before and he was a real nice guy. Even though he did play his college golf at Georgia Tech, I often route for him to play well. But in this case, I along with most of the world was hoping for Watson to pull it out and rewrite the record books. I don’t know what happened to Mr. Watson in the playoff, but he didn’t play to the same level as he played the entire week prior. Stewart Cink ended up running away with the Claret Jug and the Championship. Stewart was in a tough situation beating the sentimental favorite. I read in one article where the writer compared Cink to the young rebel who pushed the elderly man down the stairs to get what he wanted. I wouldn’t go as far as use that comparison, but I do feel that Cink being in his 30’s definitely played a role in beating the nearly 60-year-old Watson.
Some critics say golf should be embarrassed that a 60 year old almost won one of the biggest tournaments of the year, but I feel that experience is key on a links course like that. It takes more skill to play a course like that and that weeds out the guys that can only bomb the ball down the fairway. It takes a more complete game to win the British Open and Watson and Cink both showed that intelligence and skill will out play power any day. I think the tournament was awesome and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. There was great drama and great golf played on the weekend, even without Tiger in the field!

Contrats Stewart and nice job Tom!

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