Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

I can honestly admit I have never met a golfer who has been so thoroughly possessed with the game. He has given immensely to the game in ways which cannot be fully measured in terms of his playing ability or his leadership in the sport, including the presidency of the USGA.  TOM WATSON on Sandy Tatum

 

  

Monday
Jul202009

“We’ve seen an evolving of the makeup of a golf tournament media center to now be probably five guys who are consistent presences"

Bill King in Sports Business Journal looks at the changing media dynamic in NASCAR and to a lesser extent, NASCAR.

Not only are the beat writers evaporating, but fewer papers allowed their columnists to travel to golf’s majors this year.

“We’ve seen an evolving of the makeup of a golf tournament media center to now be probably five guys who are consistent presences,” said Ty Votaw, executive vice president of communications and international affairs for the PGA Tour and former LPGA commissioner. “For the tournaments that take place in their markets, the local newspapers fully staff those. But they don’t send their writers out to other events.”

In spite of this, Votaw contends that more words are written about golf now than ever, thanks in large part to the bottomless reservoir of Web pages from ESPN and CBS.

The concern there isn’t how much is produced, but who sees it. There’s plenty for the golf fan who seeks out stories, but what about for the general sports fan who skims and scans? Just as Votaw would prefer that more golf appear on the ESPN.com front page, rather than be buried where only the golf fans drill, he worries that the disappearance of local bylines is costing the sport better play in newspapers.

There's a newsflash from the city.

But at least someone is showing concern at the Tour, after Tim Finchem's less than compassionate answer on this topic last December.

Monday
Jul202009

"So golf carries on perpetuating the myth that nobody cheats."

He filed it Saturday but I just got around to reading Tom English's provocative take on the Lyle-Monty spat, calling it "golf's twisted morality at work again."

Lyle's great crime was to talk about something that golf has no stomach for. He mentioned cheating in the game and the establishment turned on him. Team Monty went on the attack and they spun this issue into something it wasn't. They wanted you to believe that this was about Lyle's bitterness at being snubbed for the captaincy of the European Ryder Cup team, but it wasn't, not really. Only the game's cheerleaders saw it in such a convenient way.

What this was about was honesty – or the lack of it. Sandy Lyle told the truth. The locker room accepted that he told the truth. But Sandy Lyle is attacked and painted as a fool because golf cannot handle the truth.

I'm not sure I agree with this, since Lyle's real problem still seems to be that he's upset about not being selected Captain, making him a lousy messenger.

That said, this is an interesting point and worthy of discussion in light of the Kenny Perry and Richie Ramsay incidents:

So golf carries on perpetuating the myth that nobody cheats. On the record, the players say it's pure as the driven snow out there. Off the record, they have their suspicions about certain guys, they have stories they tell, they know the reality but won't talk about it because it's "not good for business". It's a terrible hypocrisy. It's golf's secret shame.

Monday
Jul202009

The Moon Shot

GolfDigest.com posts the moon shot video and a transcript for today's 40th anniversary.

Monday
Jul202009

Good News For The Mickelsons

Still not a great situation by any means, but as good as can be expected according to this Golfweek report.

Monday
Jul202009

"We'll have to see."

There was so much to enjoy in Tom Watson's post round press conference, but I most enjoyed the jabs at Augusta National and the R&A for over-the-top course changes. Granted, these things have been said many times before by Watson and others, but something about the setting and the magical week transformed these from mere jabs.

Q. With it all said and done, would you have rather gone through this experience at this stage in your career or have the memories be about things you did decades ago?

TOM WATSON: You mean having a chance to win it again?

Q. Yeah.

TOM WATSON: Well, hell, yes. Yeah, darn right. Winning it again was -- as I said, I don't like to go to Augusta anymore because I feel like I'm a ceremonial golfer there; I can't play that golf course anymore unless I'm absolutely perfect. But out here I have a chance. And I knew I had a chance starting out. So, yeah, I'm glad this happened.

Q. Do you think you'll also have a chance at St. Andrews, which is where next year you'll be, of course?

TOM WATSON: Well, it depends on the wind. If the wind comes from the west there, I have a hard time with that golf course. Hole No. 4 gets me. I can't hit it far enough to get it over the junk. You have the rough there, and it depends on how deep the rough is. I'm driving into the rough all the time. It's like the 10th hole at Bethpage Black there at the first U.S. Open; when they moved the tee back, nobody could get to the fairway.

But I feel like I can play St. Andrews. I still have some of the shots to be able to play that golf course. We'll just have to see. We'll have to see.

The fact that a west wind makes the carry at No. 4 nearly impossible does speak to the silliness of these newly installed tees, but also to player perceptions of R&A setup inflexibility.

Speaking of that, did anyone else notice the par-3 tees at Turnberry? All of the divots were in the same general area. The 11th tee appeared to not move more than a five yards over the four rounds.

Sunday
Jul192009

2009 Open Championshp Clippings, Final Edition

The inkslingers earned their money today. Not an easy to tournament to summarize so soon after it happened, but they managed anyway. A few ledes:

Bill Elliott for the Irish Times:

HE WAS the plot and the subplot, the whole 7,204 yards of this final round. And then some. But Tom Watson, 47 days short of his 60th birthday, also ended up just one weak putt short of the greatest victory the game has witnessed.

James Corrigan for the Independent:

Stewart Cink broke the heart of Tom Watson – not to mention the entirety of the watching sporting world – here last night when denying the 59-year-old in a play-off for the 138th Open Championship.

Mike Aitken in The Scotsman:

IT PROMISED to be the most extraordinary story written in golf since the Open began up the road from the Ailsa at Prestwick all of 149 years ago. Tom Watson, 59 years young, faced an eight-foot putt on the 72nd hole at Turnberry to win his sixth Open title.

Instead, he left it short and wide and opened the door for Stewart Cink, the unassuming American Ryder Cup player, to win the 138th staging of the oldest major thanks to an unflinching display in a four-hole play-off.

Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:

History faltered at Turnberry today when Tom Watson, bidding to become oldest man (and the first with a hip replacement) to win one of golf's major championships, was finally vanquished by his countryman Stewart Cink at the 2009 Open Championship.

Doug Ferguson for AP:

Tom Watson stood over an 8-foot par putt Sunday evening on the final hole of a mystical British Open, one stroke away from becoming the oldest major champion in history. For the first time all week, he showed his 59-year-old nerves.

The putt never had a chance.

A little more than an hour later, neither did Watson.

Larry Dorman in the New York Times:

Not the onrush of history, not the seeming preordination of the champion, not the brutal crosswind off the firth or crowds of thousands of Scots who roared almost exclusively for his astounding 59-year-old opponent could stop Stewart Cink from winning the 138th British Open on Sunday.

Nick Pearce in the Telegraph goes with a Shrek reference:

Stewart Cink beat Tom Watson in a play-off to win the 138th Open at Turnberry and complete his maiden major victory.

Like the giant ogre in a children's scare story Cink stomped all over this Open Championship and crushed our dreams. The big American beat the heroic Watson in a play-off on a day when three different Englishmen had led at various times in the afternoon. Poor Cink, a more than decent American golfer, has just become the biggest villain in Open history.

But my favorite, from Karl MacGinty in the Belfast Telegraph:

It has to be the biggest anti-climax in golfing history — like Neil Armstrong falling down the steps of the lunar module and breaking his leg.

 

Interviews And Stats

Tom Watson

Stewart Cink

The hole-by-hole scoring averages the week, minus the final scoring average because who would want to know that?


Stewart Cink, Champion Golfer Of The Year

Damon Hack at golf.com:

Cink realized quickly that he would not be the crowd favorite in the playoff. Afterward, he said he was familiar with the role.

"I've played plenty of times with Tiger and hear the Tiger roars and Mickelson," said Cink, who closed with a final-round 69. "I'm usually the guy that the crowd [appreciates], but they're not behind me 100 percent of the way.

"I feel like whether Tom was 59 or 29, he was one of the field, and I had to play against everybody in the field, and the course, to come out on top."

Bob Harig opens with how Cink's win will always be linked more with Watson than anything else:

One of golf's truly great guys turned out to be the bad guy.

John Hopkins in The Times:

Even in victory, Cink seemed to be the loser. Even when he cradles the famous old trophy he will know that he won it from under the nose of the one man whom almost everyone here wanted to win.

“That’s all right” he said later. “I knew what to expect. I had played with Lee on Saturday and the crowds cheered for him, quite rightly. I am often the guy the crowds appreciate but are not 100 per cent behind.”

Lynne Truss wrote in Saturday's edition of the Times (thanks to reader Cardinal for catching this):

but I tell you, until Tom Watson started his charge late on Friday afternoon, I had never been less moved by the golf in a major championship.

At one point I was so desperate that, like an old cracked record, I resorted to drawing my colleagues’ attention to the presence of Stewart Cink on the leaderboard. “See?” I said. Well, I got what I deserved.

“You’re not going on about Cink again?” they said, in disbelief. “We know he’s good, but he’s never going to win. Not now. Not ever. Never.”

I'm guessing that colleague has heard a thing or two from her since.


Our Dear Watson

Derek Lawrenson in the Daily Mail:

In the packed grandstands, people who never go to church from one year to the next clasped their hands in fervent prayer. Then he woke up. We woke up.

His first putt travelled eight feet past. In the scoring area, Lee Westwood and Ross Fisher forgot their own disappointment at failing to win to watch a television monitor.

'Get in!' they urged, but the putt never looked close to the line history intended. It dribbled miserably to the right, and the sense of deflation was overwhelming.

James Lawton for the Independent:

It was the privilege of being around Tom Watson when he not only played some of the most brilliant golf of his life but also defined himself.

It was how it is when you know you have touched something that will always shine like gold.

Long before the moment of decision came, with such awful finality, Watson's achievement was beyond any analysis of pro and con, any feeble attempt to measure the demands of one sports discipline against another.

It was simply to create the greatest, most compelling, and ultimately the most poignant story in the history of any sport you care to name.

Alan Pattullo in The Scotsman:

Just who was this man hirpling again down the 18th, roared to the rafters, though with head this time bowed? It was the kid from Kansas City, freeman of Turnberry, Maidens and every damn cluster of houses in Ayrshire. Forget Colin Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle and unseemly, petty spats. Here is Scotland's finest, here is her adopted son. The fans saluted him in the way he deserved, but Watson, ever alert to golf's etiquette, hung back, allowing Cink his moment in the sun. "We love you Tom!" someone blurted. Before long, more had joined in with their declarations of affection. A terrace favourite was then struck up. All were living in a Watson Wonderland.

Thomas Bonk for GolfDigest.com:

In the end, the numbers were simply too highly stacked against him. If Watson wasn't the longest of shots, he was close. The day before the tournament began, the local odds makers listed him at 250-1.

But Watson evidently changed some minds ... his odds went down to 100-1 after Thursday, then 40-1 after Friday and 7-1 after Saturday.

What do bookmakers know anyway?

After all, Watson was ranked 1,274th last Monday. He would have been ranked 45th on Monday if he had won.

Alan Fraser for the Daily Mail:

But the thing about this past week has been the number of young people who have been rooting for Tom Watson. At times, it was like Tom Jones at Glastonbury. The young ones were rocking with Watson, all of them not even born when he was in his pomp.

They did not throw their underwear at him yesterday but they stuck their hands out hoping for a high five as the walked through the funnel on to the first tee to the first of many ovations.

Steve Elling shares this from Tony Jacklin:

"Nobody said it, but in my opinion, had he won, it would have been the greatest single feat in golf history," said Tony Jacklin, who like Watson is a Hall of Famer himself. "The greatest single feat for sure. I know accumulating 18 majors is a different kind of accomplishment, but for a 59-year-old veteran, had he won, there is nothing else.

"Trust me, 46 is a hell of a lot different that 59, and anybody over 50 knows that. I feel it every day. It was staggering the way he stood up right to the end."

Jeff Neuman wonders about the quality of players today.

The only player in contention on Sunday who looked like he knew how to win a major was Watson, right up until his 277th stroke of the tournament on the final green.

Cameron Morfit for golf.com (including confirmation that that was indeed Tom Lehman behind the ropes out on 13 tee watching Watson).

There were competing theories about the significance of a Watson victory. He would become the oldest to win a major by 11 years, which was amazing, but on the other hand it might reflect badly on the sport, or the rest of professional golf, that a man just two months shy of 60 could prevail.

"This will be the worst thing that could happen to golf," a scribe said.

"It'll be the best thing that could happen to golf," replied another.

John Hopkins addresses this point and notes the cerebral quality of golf is what makes it unique, especially when a geezer nearly wins.

And on that point, it pains me, but we do have to note a serious strategic mistake by Watson on 18 to play at the hole, as Alan Shipnuck notes in the SI Confidential:

Here in the Turnberry press room everyone is still buzzing about Watson's shot into 18 in regulation. He did pure it, but it took a hard bounce and trickled over the back. He later admitted he was between an 8-iron and a 9 and he chose the 8, even straight downwind and with all that adrenaline. I was standing next to the green for the last couple of groups and all the balls were taking big bounces. You'd think that after all these years Watson would've known to hit the 9. Better to be a little short with a 30 foot putt than long to a back flag. It was a rookie mistake that ultimately cost him the Open.

Finally, Graham Spiers on Watson's bagman, 58-year old Neil Oxman and the political discussions they have.


The Other Broken-Hearted

Marvin Collins on Lee Westwood's roller coaster ride finish.

His tee shot at 18 found the left fairway bunker but he still produced a remarkable recovery – "a great shot," said Westwood later – to the front right of the green to set up that unlikely long-range birdie attempt which he felt he had to make to keep his hopes alive.

Westwood admitted he thought he had hit a decent shot on 18 and had no idea his second shot would be from sand. "I thought it had gone down the fairway and missed the trap but it must have curled round and gone in," he said. "I hit a great shot out of the trap but didn't finish it off."

And this from the SI Confidential:

Hack: Lee Westwood is Stewart Cink, circa 2001.

Herre: Westwood blew it on 18 by rushing his final putt, thinking he was out of it, just like Cink did at Southern Hills.

Shipnuck: I was in the Winged Foot locker room with Phil and in the Augusta parking lot with Kenny Perry, and I've never seen anyone as gutted as Westwood was Sunday. He wandered around the locker room in a daze, at one point standing in front of a fridge for 15 seconds or so, staring at all the free drinks. Then he walked away without taking one. There were a half dozen players and caddies in there at the same time and it was dead silent and unbelievably awkward. When I left, Westwood was laying on a bench, rubbing his face over and over, trying to take deep breaths.

Kevin Ferrie on the dashed hopes of Oliver Fisher and Westwood:

Yet like Neil Coles and Tommy Horton, who always seemed to be in the running at some stage of Open Championships in the 70s, none but the unloved and unappreciated Faldo has managed to see it through.

While in this the home of golf, there is endless agonising over the lack of Scottish success on the world stage in some ways it seems even more curious that no other Major winner has emerged from among the ranks of so many gifted young millionaires.

Then again perhaps - as some suspected with Tim Henman in tennis - that such a comfortable existence can be had without the need for doing what is needed to bring home the biggest prizes is at least one part of the problem.

And Alan Pattullo on barely 16-year old Masseo Manassero's epic week


Turnberry Wins!

Mike Aitken says Turnberry presents "a model course," which seems a tad much.

Bearing in mind how Turnberry was burdened with a reputation as a bit of a soft touch, the fact only a handful of players were under par going into yesterday's final round and Tiger Woods, the world No1, missed the cut in the oldest major for the first time, said all that was required about the severity of the examination.

Oh joy, it was hard so it must be great!

Miscellany

Michael Hiestand isn't very high on ESPN on ABC via BBC's coverage.

Dick Friedman rates the broadcast team and says Alliss again stole the show in his limited time on air while Martin Kelner reviews Alliss' BBC work and wonders about his obsession with Pavarotti.

And this note from Paul Gallagher about the R&A faux lockers probably won't come as a shock:

All week the BBC has been telling us, “Let’s go over to the clubhouse locker-room where Hazel (Irvine) is with . . .”. But Auntie hasn’t exactly been straight with the viewers.

The BBC’s post-round interview area has the look of an upmarket locker-room, with rich, mahogany- like lockers and the RA logo visible on each of the locker doors.

We’ve since found out the supposed locker-room is a set in a portakabin just beyond the mixed zone behind the 18th grandstand.

Alan Fraser just loved the BBC's coverage and reports all sorts of fun stuff, including a drinking game that developed. His lede ought to hook you:

Joining the list of things you thought you would never hear on a prime-time BBC 1 sports programme, the following from Andrew Cotter.

‘It’s all about Matt Goggin.’

Just the sort of dramatic commentary destined to send an audience scurrying to The History Channel and an in-depth study of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95).

Mark Soltau compiles the quotes of the day while Johnson/Weinman pick out birdies and bogeys, including a thumbs for the R&A saying they may review their age 60 limit for past champions.

Though Ewan Murray talks to Peter Dawson about the rule and it's hard to be enthusiastic that it'll get bumped back to 65.

And this press room temperature gauge from Damon Hack at golf.com:

Damon Hack: I can honestly say that I've never seen a press corps undergo the mood swing it did from the moment Watson's ball was in the air on the 18th hole to when it landed. As writers, we root for the story, and a Watson win would have transcended golf and made for one joyride of a Sunday-night write. Who knows when this opportunity will ever come again.

Doug Ferguson with notes on Padraig, Chris Wood, exemptions and more.

And finally, my favorite from Jenkins' final day of Tweeting:

Sunday
Jul192009

Rough Questions For The R&A

I know that course setup talk has most writers longing for a return to the cricket beat, but the excessive role of Turnberry's rough deserves more scrutiny. And since several scribblers have access to the R&A's Peter Dawson the Monday following, we can only hope they'll probe about the course preparations that he is so much a part of.

On American TV we heard consistently about the "thick undergrowth" of "overseeded rye and bent" grasses. Native grasses on a links are traditionally fescue with other grasses mixed in, but I sensed that the repeated use of "overseeded rye and bent" was a subtle message from Curtis Strange, Tom Weiskopf and Paul Azinger that they found the dense undergrowth situation peculiar. And certainly the R&A's pre-tournament implication was that "nature" created this situation. 

But lost ball rough next to a par-3 green? That is not the product of nature.

Some will argue that the course having been closed for so many months leading up to the championship led to such a situation. No traffic certainly is a legitimate explanation but there was also evidence of irrigation overspray in some of the more penal roughs. If it's a wet spring, why is irrigation necessary?

I'm no agronomist, but there are ways to thin excessive rough if you deem it excessive (they're called sheep). It's also worth asking if a special overseed took place either for aesthetic or resistance to scoring purposes.

Another lesser issue is the lack of width. It's no secret that the R&A drove changes to Turnberry, including over 200 yards of length and 21 new bunkers. The R&A contends that the course was not narrowed since 1994 and the slivers of fairways surrounded by lost ball rough are all merely a product of nature. But as we saw, with firm conditions and a typical 20 m.p.h. wind, things can get a bit goofy.

Dawson, who supervised the changes, defends the fairway widths as merely working around the bunkering. But as you may have noticed, nearly all of the new bunkers tightened the course and were designed to put the player on the defensive. So yes, the bunkers dictate the width, but then that means the R&A is using bunkers to narrow the course. Why?

And is this really the essence of links golf, or still ultimately about reducing the number of times players can hit drivers and reveal just how far they can drive it with today's equipment?

Sunday
Jul192009

Cink Defeats Watson In Open Playoff; Future Of American Golf Looks Strong

Your thoughts?

Sunday
Jul192009

Final Round Musings

In lieu of a live chat, here's where you can air your grievances, grieving and other profound thoughts.

Saturday
Jul182009

2009 Open Championship Clippings, 54-Hole Edition

Just when you thought Friday's wild events would make for a great day of filings, the possibilities Sunday have the scribes working overtime to put the enormity of Tom Watson into perspective. Not an easy thing to do as the entire concept of a 59-year old winning is still unfathomable to most of us, even after Greg Norman's run last year.

Want to know how big the story is? There were almost no Tiger-missed-the-cut redux specials.

Anyway, gentleman, boot your laptops...


Ledes

Ian Chadband in the Telegraph:

Last time, it was the Duel in the Sun; this time, it could be the Duel with the English Sons.

Larry Dorman in the New York Times:

For just a moment on Saturday, this whole dream vision of Tom Watson, 59 years old and leading the 138th British Open, seemed to have caught up to him — just as his young pursuers had.

But as he did the day before, and as he had done so often in days gone by, Watson resolutely refused to go away.

AP's Doug Ferguson writes:

Tom Watson has a plan to win the British Open. It no longer reads like a fairy tale.

James Corrigan in the Independent:

This is getting serious. Tom Watson is on the brink of golf's most stunning victory.


Watson

If you have time, check out Watson's post-3rd round interview. Lots of great exchanges thanks to some surprising questions. This was fun:

Q. How does the wind affect the modern ball versus what you were playing back in '77?

TOM WATSON: Well, the wind doesn't affect it nearly as much. The modern ball goes straighter; it doesn't curve as much. It's a harder ball to play downwind, I think. The old ball was a better ball to play downwind. But into the wind and crosswind, the modern ball is much better. It doesn't curve as much and it bores through the wind better.

Tom English in The Scotsman:

OLD Tom Morris's whiskers will be fairly twitching up there in the golfing gods. He's watching. Don't doubt it. Watching and cheering. You don't believe it? Fair enough.

It's a fanciful tale to be sure. Mystic nonsense. Okay. So come up with another reason for what's been going on at Turnberry this week. Explain the mysteries of Tom Watson taking a one-shot lead into the final round of the Open championship at the age of 59. Tell us about the huge putts he holed, the fortunate bounces, the feeling in the air around him.

And...

We are talking history on an unimaginable scale. Not just Old Tom Morris but Harry Vardon, too. Vardon is the only man who has ever won six Open championships.

Mark Reason in the Telegraph:

They gave Tom Watson a standing ovation as he walked onto the 18th green, but it was strangely different to the one that Greg Norman received at Birkdale last year.

Norman’s Saturday evening was lit by sentimental sunlight, as if the heavens knew that this was the Australian’s moment. Watson walked home beneath a muted sky and the crowd sensed that ol’ Tom’s moment of magic may still be to come.

Gene Wojciechowski for ESPN.com:

Thanks for saving this Open Championship from post-Tiger Woods withdrawal. Thanks for single-handedly rescuing a tournament that had its steering wheel turned toward ZZZZZurnberry and a leaderboard of Who's-That?, What's-His-Face and So-and-So.

We owe you, Tom Watson.

Doug Ferguson on Jack Nicklaus playing some tennis before retiring to his couch to watch Watson, shed a few tears, send his first text message and issue this proclamation:

"Whether or not Tom players well tomorrow, whether or not he wins, it doesn't make a difference," Nicklaus said. "Of course, we would all love to see Tom win, but what he has accomplished already is a phenomenal achievement.

Paul Forsyth in The Scotsman:

Watson's competitive instincts are what have made the last few days possible. Like Nicklaus, he has resolved never to be a ceremonial golfer, which casts doubt on the wisdom of the R&A's decision to grant exemptions only to players aged 60 or under. Next year's Open at St Andrews will be Watson's last, unless he chooses to go through qualifying.

The man is an inspiration. Not only is he an example to the weekend hackers ambling towards retirement, he is a reason to take up golf in the first place, for in no other sport is it possible to play, and compete, for so long. He has lifted Seve Ballesteros, who says it has made him want to make a comeback. Nicklaus, too, is watching on television, doubtless rubbing his eyes in disbelief. Never mind Old Tom Morris, old Tom Watson is on the brink of something special.

Jaime Diaz breaks down a possible Watson win more scientifically and says it would rank as the greatest single tournament victory in the history of golf.

John Hopkins in the Times:

Such a performance would surpass the victory in the 1986 Masters by Jack Nicklaus when he was 46. It would exceed Ben Hogan's victory in the 1950 US Open 16 months after he had nearly been killed in a car accident in Texas. Tiger Woods's acquisition of 14 major championships pale in comparison. Even Woods's 15-stroke victory in the 2000 US Open, an achievement Watson calls the most impressive thing he has ever known in golf, would be a lesser achievement than a man who is two months short of his 60th birthday winning one of the game's four annual major championships.

Garry Smits also puts a Watson win above the Nicklaus comeback at the 1986 Masters. Maybe Watson has Weiskopf's return to the booth to thank?

Bob Smiley lands a shot of Watson's unique courtesy car.


Fisher, Westwood and Goggin

John Huggan tells us all about Ross Fisher and includes this:

Paired with the 1989 champion at Royal Troon, Mark Calcavecchia, in a near facsimile of the "tortoise and the hare", the oh-so-slow-moving Fisher made the sort of start every player yearns for before the off. A pair of steady pars at the opening holes was followed immediately by a nifty 20-foot putt for birdie at the par-4 third. Suddenly, the world was a beautiful place, appropriate given the spectacular scenery that surrounds the storied Ailsa course.

One did have to wonder, however, just how taken Calcavecchia was with Fisher's tortuous pace. He is, after all, the man who described being paired with Sir Nick as "like playing alone, only slower".

Speaking of Fisher's pace, Mark Reason tags along with John Paramor and explains in must read fashion the methodology on Open slow play timing. It seems Fisher has been close to a penalty several times.

When a golfer is put on the clock he has 40 seconds to play unless he is the first in the group to hit. On Friday morning Fisher received his bad time for taking 67 seconds. He then took 44 seconds over seven subsequent shots.

A cruel referee could have penalised Fisher on each of those occasions, but Paramor is more like a benign policeman. He gives the player 10 per cent leeway, like a traffic cop only pulling in a driver for doing 78mph on the motorway. This week Paramor invited the Telegraph to see how he goes about his business.

And this was beautiful:

Another message comes through on Paramor’s earpiece. Even the news of Tiger missing the cut couldn’t be more exciting. It’s time to put Monty’s group on the clock. Colin Montgomerie, one of the fastest players on tour, KJ Choi, not one of the fastest players on tour, and Zach Johnson are behind schedule.

Paramor steers his buggy under the ropes and waits for the players. He tells each man in turn that they are on the clock. Choi gives him an old-fashioned look. There is history here. Paramor gave the Korean a bad time in his national Open. Monty looks like a firecracker has exploded behind his eyes.

He quickens his pace and heads straight for a 'ball spotter’ working for the BBC. The man has twice got in the group’s way and held up play. Monty has words and the man in the stripy jumper flees the course.

Richard Bath on Westwood's one greedy play and how it cost him a tie of the lead.

Within sight of the 18th green, it was a policy that looked certain to see him end the day with one of the handful of under-par rounds, and within a shot of overnight leader Tom Watson's mark of four-under. But then Westwood got greedy. He eschewed caddy Billy Foster's sage advice to hit right to compensate for the wind, ignored his own plan to go for the meat of the green, and went for the pin. Had he gone for the heart of the green, his shot would have been pin-high. Instead, it flumped into the bank of impenetrable grass just short of the green and plugged. His first attempt to dislodge the ball barely moved it, and although his second was a sublimely deft lob that put him close enough to finish with a single putt, he had still dropped back to two-under, a shot behind Matthew Goggins and compatriot Ross Fisher, and two behind Watson.

Paul Kelso consider England's chances.

Of the two, Westwood is most obviously ready to step up to the highest level. A European Tour fixture for 15 years, he has recovered the consistency that saw him win the Order of Merit a year after Lawrie’s Open win, and is increasingly putting himself in contention for majors.

At last year’s US Open, he was a shot away from joining Woods and Rocco Mediate in a play-off, and having seen off Woods in the opening two rounds here this week, he had no excuse for a shortage of self-belief.

Steve Elling on Westwood's chances, includes this:

Playing alongside Woods and Japanese teen Ryo Ishikawa, Westwood birdied the first three holes of the first round and has had few major issues since, at least compared with most players. Westwood cracked that the media circus left town Saturday, sort of like Woods and Ishikawa, who both missed the cut.
"I couldn't believe it on the first tee today; there were about five photographers there," he said. "I wondered where they had all gone. I thought they were there for me [the first two days], but obviously not."

Derek Clements on Matt Goggin and his pairing with Watson Sunday.

One of the highlights of his professional career was when he played with Tom Watson in the third round of The Open at Royal St George’s in 2003. “I just learnt so much from him. I mean, here was a guy who was getting on in years, but he just hit the ball beautifully and managed his game and the course superbly. To be honest, it was scary how good he was. Six years later, here he is at the top of the leaderboard again. It’s just incredible,” he said.

Reason in the Telegraph:

Fisher, the bookies’ favourite, does not talk about winning a major, he talks about winning majors. That is good to hear, but he will have to hole the putts today. Fisher has the long game, but does he have the touch and the unblinking belief to hole the clutch putts.


Will It Come Down To 17?

Oliver Brown in The Telegraph:

On Friday, the one day when the 17th played downwind, the field helped themselves to birdies with uncommon voracity. Among the top-20 players profiting from yesterday’s more placid conditions, only one, Justin Rose, failed to pick up a shot.

“The one hole that is disappointing is 17,” he said. “They moved the tee so far back that it’s a very boring hole. It plays so long that you can’t reach the green in two.

And while you're reading about the course, Jim McCabe zeroes in on the par-5 7th and Jim Furyk's play there.

Miscellany

John Huggan addresses the annual absurdity of all the empty seats on No. 18, the interview room, Dan Jenkins, the ridiculous 9th fairway and the wonderful 16th.

Justin Rose is at +2 over and envisions a scenario where he could make a comeback.

Mark Soltau with the day's best quotes, and Weinman/Johnson file birdies and bogeys including some fun on-site observations.

Ewan Murray on Seve's hoped-for return in 2010 at St. Andrews.

And finally, the Jenkins Tweet of the day:


Saturday
Jul182009

Thank God For Tom Watson!

Did I mention that already today?

Nothing against Ross Fisher or Matt Goggin (a sharp and insightful guy), but Watson is salvaging an otherwise bizarre tournament on a strange setup.

Is he going to hang on tomorrow? He leads by 1, two months shy of turning 60.

Saturday
Jul182009

Is This "Proper" Golf?

Steve Marino makes triple bogey after nearly losing his ball in the primped-up rough just right of Turnberry's 15th green. Is this what the R&A and Turnberry thinks represents pure golf? Links golf? Proper golf?

It's rough clearly hit with irrigation overspray. Yet it's been a wet spring we've been told. So why are they watering?

Saturday
Jul182009

Mark James Finishes First In The Blame-Hank Sweepstakes!

We're not even 24 hours removed from Tiger Woods' first missed cut in the Open Championship and we already have a winner in the inevitable Blame Hank Haney Sweepstakes!

Steve Elling reports that it's Mark James, working for the BBC:

"If I was Tiger, I'd be having serious words with my coach,"' James said. "I'd be disappointed if I had a [swing] plane like that after all the buildup."

Saturday
Jul182009

First Saturday Open Championship Rant

I'll get to this defensive golf nonsense in a moment. And let me say, Thank God for Tom Watson.

Okay, Jenkins Tweets:

Now, Ross Fisher should be commended for saying the right thing. He wants to be with his wife for the birth of his first child, announcers swoon, women cry and the world is a better place.

But let's think about the well being of the child. What would be better for his or her long term health and security?

Dad, stinking up the waiting or delivery room, or possibly winning the Open Championship?

Win the Open, and Ross/Rossette is set for life and therefore likely to be well taken care of, going to college, etc...

Pass up the Open victory chance, have dad there to witness the billionth child birth, and what good does that do the youngster? Maybe dad never gets another chance, ends up toiling on the mini-tours and the young lad grows up to work the carnival circuit picking up elephant dung? Not that's there's anything wrong with that.

But I'm just asking...

Friday
Jul172009

2009 Open Championship Clippings, 36-hole Edition

The ledes sum up a wild and wacky day at Turnberry.

Mark Reason in the Telegraph:

Tom Watson was supposed to be a one-day wonder, an old vaudeville act with a limited run, but here he was on the 18th green high-kicking his way to a share of the lead of the Open Championship.

Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:

The dream continues for Tom Watson but not for Tiger Woods – two giants of the game whose paths diverged on a dramatic day at Turnberry that saw the wind rise, the scores soar and the Ailsa course take revenge on her tormentors.

Doug Ferguson for the AP:

Tom Watson leading the British Open heading to the weekend?

Tiger Woods gassing up the plane and heading for home?

Treacherous Turnberry delivered a pair of shockers Friday.

Mark Lamport-Stokes filing for Reuters:

The British Open's renowned unpredictability with its vagaries of weather was sharply highlighted on Friday when Tom Watson, 59, tied for the lead and world number one Tiger Woods missed the cut.

Derek Lawrenson in the Daily Mail:

For two days this 138th Open Championship has resembled a reality television show, in which the two most famous men in the field who happen to share the same initials have agreed to swap roles.

James Corrigan in the Independent

It was the day Turnberry turned into a monster and did the unthinkable – it swallowed a Tiger.

Larry Dorman in the New York Times:

Time-worn themes and conventional wisdom about how to succeed in the 138th Open Championship shifted faster than the weather on the Ayrshire coast Friday, and the names on the leader board did the same.


Watson
!

Graham Spiers on Watson's mid-round resurgence.

“Gaun yersel’, Tom!” a Scottish voice shouted as he strode briskly down a fairway. Watson, who thinks of himself as something of a mimic, often attempts a Scottish accent that comes out sounding Polish and he may not have understood that “gaun yersel’” is an Ayrshire cry of encouragement. But he smiled and accepted the acclaim in a way he has come to perfect over the past 35 years.

Bob Harig on Watson's round and his 18th hole celebratory leg kick:

Watson birdied the ninth and 11th holes, then added two long putts at the 16th and 18th holes that he estimated were each 60 feet in length, the last one getting a huge reaction from the chilled fans in the jammed bleachers and a celebratory hop and leg kick from Watson.

"That was my Scottish jig," he said.

Jay Coffin on the pep talk Sergio gave Watson mid-round. Yes, you read that right.

Marino!

Tim Rosaforte helps us get to know the man who had 22 putts, almost won at Colonial and will probably be off the radar by the end of Sunday's round. He also talks to Steve Sr. about how Steve Jr. got to this point.

Calc!

Cameron Morfit on the 1989 Champion:

Calcavacchia, whose wife, Brenda, is his caddie this week, has talked a lot about beer since he landed. After his first-round 67, when he hit 17 greens in regulation, he mentioned how much fun he's been having getting to know other players like Lucas Glover, Matt Kuchar and Boo Weekley in the Duel in the Sun Pub.

"The beer is very tasty," he said.

That's not something you hear much from today's robopros, but there's nothing like the almighty pint to ingratiate yourself with the locals. After his round Friday, Calcavecchia was asked if it's true he's been allowing himself the odd post-round libation. And how many is he allowing himself?

"Four seems to be a nice round figure," he said, eliciting laughter. "It's just enough, but it's not too many."


Tiger!

Bill Elliott in The Guardian:

Although he said later that he played "pretty bad at Winged Foot", the US Open of 2006, few who have marvelled at his play over the last decade and beyond could recall such a disastrous sortie across such an important arena.

Seven shots were dropped during this time, Woods's ball control suddenly absent in action, his usual focus also off somewhere. He looked alarmed during this dreary spell and no wonder for this was not just a big hiccup but may turn out to have been something more sinister.

What seems certain, given the perverse nature of this game, is that this run of bogey, bogey, double bogey, par, bogey, double bogey will have sown a small seed of doubt in even this player's mind.Wild swings, lost balls, fluffed pitches, disappointing putts are not this guy's usual ammunition but he showered this links with all this sort of stuff.

Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN.com:

Obligatory dumb post-round question: "What's next for you?"

Woods: "Well, go home, get something to eat. I'm really hungry right now."

He'll have plenty of time to chow down this weekend. Maybe even mow the yard. Play with the kids. Watch somebody else win the Open Championship, the same championship for which oddsmakers made him a 2-1 favorite.

There's no nice way of describing his first missed cut since the 2006 U.S. Open and only his sixth MC as a pro. Woods played semi-awful. Jimmy Fallon could have beaten him.

Nick Hoult in the Telegraph:

Having faltered in benign conditions on the Thursday, when his drives spilt left and right, Woods was conservative as he started his second round. It all felt rather flat as Woods played within himself on the first six holes. He didn't even lose his temper with the phalanx of photographers training their lenses on Woods' playing partner Ryo Ishikawa. Instead it was left to the spectators to vent their spleen on the snappers.

PGATour.com documents his missed cuts in PGA Tour events. It's not a long list.

Rex Hoggard imagines what kind of text Tiger will receive from Roger Federer and talks to a swing coach who chalks up the MC to the vagaries of links golf.

Matt Dickinson in The Times:

Another six followed at the 13th when Woods hit his approach over the back of the green. His chip bounded up the bank, but then rolled back down the slope. His next three shots were played with the resignation of a man who knew that, whatever he did in the next hour, he would not be adding to his tally of major titles.

He barely looked to see if his putts would roll left or right. For all he cared, they could trundle downhill all the way to the sea.

James Lawton following a similar theme in his Independent column:

The bewilderment re-doubled at the 12th when he bogeyed after finding a bunker from the tee and then there was another disaster at the 14th when he double-bogeyed again – this time after watching a chip from the right of the green slide back down the slope and then skitter further away from the hole.

It was at this point that a rare expression crossed the face of Tiger Woods. It wasn't anger, it wasn't concern, it wasn't even apprehension. It was disbelief. It was the sense that his world, all the certainties upon which he has built his fabulous reputation, were sliding away before his eyes.

And Steve Elling notes this:

With the breeze blowing, Woods put his 5-wood back in the bag before the round and ditched the 2-iron he used Thursday, but regardless of the ammo, he seemed to have trouble all week keeping the ball under the wind and hit several parachuting shots that sailed far afield. There were few, if any, trademark stingers, other than the slap in the face of going home early.


Others!

Oliver Brown on lurking Lee Westwood and Andy Farrell on Ross Fisher's chances along with the possibility of an early departure to be with his wife.

Thomas Bonk conducts a Q&A with Boo Weekley about life in Scotland.

Q: So it sounds like you're liking Scotland?

Boo: "Oh, yeah, Scotland's a pretty place. I mean, as long as it ain't raining."


Turnberry!

John Hopkins analyzes Friday's setup while defending the difficulty and he also quotes several players who felt there was an over reaction to Thursday's low scoring.

In that case, the aim was achieved yesterday. One player after another commented on the difficult positions in which the flagsticks were placed and suggested that perhaps the Royal and Ancient had determined that the low scoring of the first day would not be repeated.

“Every flag is in the toughest possible position,” Retief Goosen said. Padraig Harrington added: “No 14 was the first pin I thought was accessible. Every other one was pretty tough.”

John Daly said it was “brutal”, adding: “Pin placements were extremely tough. The way the wind was blowing, it was impossible to get at them.”

Justin Rose went farther. “Flag placements were bordering on the ridiculous,” he said. “I think they were trying to protect the golf course. The flags were opposite to where the wind was wanting to take the ball. I was fighting it all day. When the wind was from the left, the pins were cut on the left. When it was downwind, the pins were cut on the front, and when it was into the wind, the flags were at the back of the green.”


Sandy/Monty!

If you can't believe that Sandy rambled on about Monty even more as we noted here, I give you the video evidence courtesy of reader Lloyd.

In my favorite piece of the day, Brian Viner's effort is headlined: Monty overdoes the death stare as his game deserts him.

There is, in fact, more chance of Prince Charles designing a futuristic chrome office block with its plumbing on the outside. Photographers are a reviled species to Monty, who on the ninth tee took exception to a snapper lying prostrate and motionless in the official vantage point. Nobody else over the course of the first two days here had been troubled, as was intrepidly pointed out by a woman holding a "Quiet Please" sign. "It was all right for Tiger Woods yesterday," she dared to tell Monty. A scowl was her reward.

It remains one of the mysteries of golf that a man capable of such beguiling charm off the course can be so spectacularly charmless on it. Monty smashed his tee shot on the ninth into deep rough, so deep that at first neither he, his caddie, nor the marshals, could find it. The spectators watched the search sympathetically from the other side of the ropes.

Monty glared at them. "You can help if you'd like to," he said, the implication being that they didn't have to stand there being quite so useless. A few minutes later he galumphed off the green with a six on his card, and as he made his way to the next tee, a man called out, plainly in a spirit of encouragement rather than provocation, "Well done, Colin". Rather like a juggernaut, Montgomerie came to a juddering halt. His eyes bored into the hapless spectator. "I've just double-bogeyed the hole, mate," he snapped back. Rarely did anyone feel less like Monty's mate.


Attendance!

The poor attendance is festering into a story as a second day of empty stands caught Ewan Murray's eye. Ticket prices combined with Turnberry's location seem to be the issue.

There are, of course, a host of explanations for this year's poor turnout. The economic climate is widely blamed. Given an adult couple attending the Open for a day can expect little change out of £200 this will be a luxury many will simply choose to do without. Turnberry is also notoriously difficult to get to; even with new traffic measures in operation there were tales this morning of cars crawling 30 miles short of the course.

And based on these Forecaddie Tweets, it doesn't sound like the situation will be any better next year.

Notes!

Mark Soltau compiles the best quotes of the day while Sam Weinman and E. Michael Johnson tabulate the Birdies and Bogeys of the day, starting with a beauty involving bookie William Hill and Ian Poulter.

The Golfweek gang talks to Calc, James Driscoll, Padraig, Poulter and Josh Geary about their Open play.

Alan Shipnuck files random thoughts, including an announcement that he's off the Geoff Ogilvy bandwagon.

Doug Ferguson's AP notes include a look at the small crowds...outside the ropes and Aussie Daniel Gaunt (a Watson practice round playing partner).

Rich Lerner delivers Hooks and Cuts:

Watson was born in 1949. For context, other athletes born in 1949 include Mike Schmidt, Bill Buckner, Dusty Baker, hockey great Bobby Clarke, Joe Theisman, Ahmad Rashad and Dan Dierdorf. Imagine for a moment those guys still playing. And winning!

For two days this 138th Open Championship has resembled a reality television show, in which the two most famous men in the field who happen to share the same initials have agreed to swap roles.

And finally, I couldn't pick one of the Dan Jenkin's Tweets. It's a five-way tie in my view!

Friday
Jul172009

Tiger Woods Misses Second Major Cut; Western World Anxiously Awaits To See If Saturday Sun Will Rise In East, Set In West

ABC apparently sent out a breaking news alert that they just lost 3-4 ratings points that Tiger Woods missed the Open Championship cut, and Tony Jimenez confirms with quotes from Tiger after his 74/145 total.

Friday
Jul172009

Monty Thinks Sandy Lyle Is Very, Very Funny

This AP story is so much fun. Monty, asked what he thought of Lyle's delusions of a vice captaincy:

"I thought that it was rather amusing when he said he hoped it doesn't jeopardize his vice captaincy position. I thought it was very, very funny."

Sandy the comedian couldn't keep his trap shut Friday either.

Each time Lyle has tried to explain himself, he has added fodder for British media. Friday was no exception.

"It's been taken probably a little out of context," Lyle said after a 73 to finish at 8-over 148. "I have never, ever tried to sort of stir the pot. I hope he goes out and shoots about a 67 and all will be forgotten."

Oh no, he didn't do it again?

"I'm not fabricating anything. It's all been dealt with over the last so many months and years about what happened in Jakarta," Lyle told BBC TV. "I'm just going about my business and sometimes I have to just protect myself as well. I was hassled a lot from the press about the jeopardy of the captaincy of the Ryder Cup, was my walking off the golf course putting me in trouble.

"Monty wasn't exactly squeaky clean, was he? He's had his troubles as well."

Lyle said that he was reluctant to say any more about the conflict with Montgomerie, who has won a record eight Order of Merit titles.

"I feel sorry for Colin in some ways because I don't really want to keep stirring the pan and I keep opening my mouth and keep making the back pages," Lyle said. "I think we have to call it an end and deal with it behind the scenes."

Really, decided four days was enough?

Lyle was asked whether it was bad judgment in the circumstances to refer to Montgomerie on Thursday as a "drama queen."

"He's an emotional sort of person and gets a bit hot under the collar and I suppose with comments like this and the papers it doesn't help," Lyle said. "But he'll get over it. He's a big enough boy and he'll go out there and play golf and I hope he shoots 68 today."

Contacted soon after by GeoffShackelford.com for clarification, Lyle was asked again about how he hoped Monty would play in response to being called a cheater.

"As I've said, he's a tough man, I really hope he goes out and fires a 69 today, or a 70, maybe a 71, and in this wind, anything under 85 would be impressive for a man of his talents."

Thursday
Jul162009

2009 Open Championship Clippings, Round 1 Edition

I think you know what happened, just in case, a few ledes:

Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:

Miguel Angel Jiménez's rolling putt across Turnberry's 18th green in the evening gave the Spaniard the first-round lead but it could not deny the old warrior Tom Watson another day in the sun.

James Corrigan in the Independent:

For more than six hours the dream was on, the clock was rewound and golf was again basking in its golden age. At the age of 59, Tom Watson was about to become the oldest man in history to lead after the first round of a major. And not any old major but an Open Championship at Turnberry of all things. Nostalgia floated in on the gentle breeze, bringing with it the memories of 1977 and that sunlit duel.

Derek Lawrenson in the Daily Mail:

American legend Tom Watson didn't so much roll back the years as pummel them into submission with a stunning 65 in the first round of The Open.

Mark Reason in the Telegraph:

Ol' Tom Watson just keeps rolling along, as timeless as the Mississippi river. The 59 year-old from Kansas blazed round Turnberry in 65 strokes as the years tumbled back.

Wasn't that the same score Watson shot 32 years ago when he stared down Jack Nicklaus in the famous 'Duel in the Sun'? They say that time and tide wait for no man. They were wrong. The time and tide at Turnberry always wait for Watson.

Doug Ferguson writing for the AP:

Tom Watson, famous for winning the “Duel in the Sun” that forever links him with Turnberry, is at the stage in his career where the British Open should be a ceremonial stroll into the sunset.

This is the era of Tiger Woods. This is the title defense of Padraig Harrington.

Yet at age 59, with wrinkles framing his gap-tooth grin, Watson poured in birdie after birdie, reviving his spiritual connection on Scottish links with a bogey-free round of 5-under 65.

 

Watson

Michael Bamberger on Watson who I forgot also won a Senior Open at Turnberry.

Jack and Barbara — and Watson's current wife, Hilary — were there for the 2003 Senior British Open win, without the bottles of wine, at least for Tom, who doesn't drink these days. This year, it's Hilary and assorted friends. On the bag is Neil Oxman, who first encouraged Bruce Edwards to ask Tom Watson for work way back when in 1973. Watson's been saying the same thing for some years now: as you get older, the things you appreciate are not the things you do for yourself, but the things you do for and with family and real friends.

Jeff Babineau for Golfweek:

Wednesday night, Watson received a text from Barbara Nicklaus, who said she’d seen a flattering picture of Watson’s caddie, Neil Oxman, and wished Watson well. Watson texted back that he misses seeing Jack at the Open, just as the Open will miss Watson when he walks away at age 60 in St. Andrews next July. The way this week has unfolded, though, from solid practice rounds to his opening round magic, Watson said there has been a spiritual sense to it all.

“Just the serenity of it was pretty neat,” he said.

 

Tiger

Thomas Bonk for GolfDigest.com:

In his rush to keep up with Tiger Woods as he left the 18th green Thursday, caddie Steve Williams broke into a brisk trot, pulled off his caddie bib and, in one fluid motion, tossed it backwards to the attendant while knocking his own cap to the ground, never bothering to pick it up.

Woods was going somewhere, anywhere, and he was going fast. Where Woods wasn't going in the first round of the British Open was up the leader board. He opened with a one-over 71, continuing his downward trend of starting a major championship heading in the wrong direction.

See, that's why Stevie normally takes the bib off early!

Damon Hack on Tiger's opening round:

If rust and a cold driver hurt Woods at Augusta National and weather and a cold putter slowed him at the United States Open at Bethpage Black, Woods would have to look hard for an alibi through one round at Turnberry. The wind was down. Birdies and eagles were plentiful. Woods was stuck in neutral.

Art Spander considersthe odds of Woods win now, and other betting options for those who are blessed with the option (that would exclude those of us in the land of the free).

 

Miscellany

Mickey Stafford files several notes, including an item on Watson having little trouble finding his room at Turnberry. It's named after him.

Mark Soltau with the best quotes of the day, including some great stuff from other players about Watson.

Tim Rosaforte on Mark Calcaveccia's Aleve and beer regimen.

Steve Elling on Ben Curtis' love of links golf.

John Hopkins says "Sandy Lyle has hijacked the 138th Open" and demands: Put a sock in it, Sandy, we said. Now we say: please, please put a sock in it, Sandy. Give over. Leave Montgomerie alone. Let's get on with the golf. It is much more interesting than your vendetta.

Jay Coffin on Miguel Angel Jimenez'scigar smoking andon highlightsfrom UK radio's coverage. My favorite:OnBoo Weekley: “Boo Weekley sounds like a newspaper for ghosts. But it’s not, it’s a golfer.”

And Coffin on Sergio tipping his cap to the gallery that was cheering for Watson.

Jay Busbee suggests that we better respect the villainous 16th hole.

Chris Chase on how nice it was to hear Tom Weiskopf's calming presence.

Mickey Stafford on a new rule that forbids patrons from leaving and re-entering on the same day. The R&A says it's to improve traffic, local businesses aren't buying that explanation.

Robert Winder on several topics, including a popular topic: Ian Poulter's outfit backfiring.

Alistair Tait asks, "Where is everybody?" and wonders about the lackluster attendance.

I’ve never experienced a quieter first day of an Open Championship than this one. When Tom Watson walked up the 18th hole, the grandstands were only a quarter full. And it was noon! I know Turnberry is out of the way and there’s a recession, but come on: This is The Open for goodness sake!

And finally, the Jenkins Tweet's of the day (it was a tie!):

 

Thursday
Jul162009

Note To Smugglers: Know What A Handicap Is

Thanks to Putmedownfora6 for this priceless James Tozer story from The Sun detailing Kayti (huh!?) Dryer, who had checked golf clubs and paid a visit to Customs where they asked her what her handicap was.

When she was unable to answer, they seized the clubs and found £83,000 worth of cocaine hidden inside the shafts.

Yesterday the 23-year-old was starting a four-year prison sentence after admitting smuggling the drugs.

Dryer was questioned after her golf bag was X-rayed at Manchester Airport when she got off a flight from the Caribbean in April. She claimed to have taken the clubs on holiday to Montego Bay in Jamaica.

An airport source said: 'When asked about her handicap, she looked blank and asked them to repeat the question. They asked her again, she gave no response.

'She clearly did not know what they were talking about and had no idea it was even a golfing term. It appeared as if she thought they were asking her if she had a disability.'

Traces of cocaine were revealed when Customs officers swabbed her luggage, and when they cut the clubs into pieces they found a 1kg stash.

Thursday
Jul162009

Sandy: Man Up Monty, You Drama Queen!

Just when you thought it was safe to watch some golf and put our little Monty-Lyle drama to rest, it seems Sandy Lyle spoke up after round one. Jenkins Tweets: "This duel could be pistols at sunrise."

From a BBC report:

"We sometimes call him a bit of a drama queen. He's probably milking it a bit," Lyle told BBC Radio 5 Live.

There's a way to ensure the situation will not go away!

The pair are both competing in the 138th Open Championship and 51-year-old Lyle says his attempts to speak with Montgomerie have so far failed.

"He keeps disappearing," said Lyle.

"I've tried to talk to him but I don't think he wants to talk to me right now.

"He's got to get around to it and stop hiding behind the manager and come out and we'll have a talk.

"It's annoying how it's worked out, but he should see that too.

"He's had many years experience with the press and he should be a man about it, we'll get together and sort it out over a few pints at some stage."