Twitter: GeoffShac
  • 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

As I go back over the years of my golf there are many faces which come before me, and they are not alone of those with whom I have constructed courses, for to learn golf architecture one must know golf itself, its companionships, its joys, its sorrows, its battles--one must play golf and love it.




Giuliani To Appear On Big Break; Finds Ideal Forum To Resolve Disputes With Father, Duke University

From the NY Post comes this exciting news that the current season is filmed at Orlando's Disney World, tentatively titled "Big Break Orlando Because It's A Recession And No One Wants To Watch Leggy Babes Bundled Up In Gore-Tex On Some Cold Canadian Island." Of course, I don't know where Andrew Giuliani fits into this, but I'm sure those of you who watch this dreck will fill the rest of us in.


How Natives Should Look

Since most of you defended the silly hack-out native grass at Turnberry, I thought I'd give you a look at what I think is an ideal native grass look. And I'll get a shameless plug in for my friend and occasional design mate Gil Hanse's new course at Castle Stuart, where he collaborated with Mark Parsinen and Jim Wagner.

Some made the point about Turnberry having been closed for many months as an explanation for the density of the natives, yet these images taken by Bruce Wellmon (posted on GCA) are from opening day. The course has not been played prior to this round except by a handful of people.


Tiger To Play Three Weeks In A Row!?

Bob Harig calls it a mild surprise that Tiger Woods is entering the Buick and therefore playing three weeks in a row. And frankly, I'm shocked. I mean, who wouldn't want to play soulful Warwick Hills, Firestone and Hazeltine in consecutive weeks?

While I'm sure some will suggest Woods is finally realizing that he needs to play just a bit more often and that perhaps his 2008 U.S. Open win mistakenly planted a seed that he could get away with little tournament preparation, I see it differently. This has nothing to do with majors. This is about getting in shape for the PLAYOFFS (C).


Will Someone Ask...Na

I see Kevin Na opened the Canadian Open with a 63, but it was noted in a recent story that he didn't even file an entry form for Open Championship entry and therefore missed out on an alternate spot. Unfortunately no one asked him about this after the round.


Watson Ready To Go Again At Sunningdale

After receiving a standing-O upon boarding his flight to London reports John Strege via Mark Soltau, Tom Watson is in in good spirits upon arriving at Sunningdale according to Brian Creighton.

Oliver Brown reports that Watson is paired with Greg Norman in the opening rounds of the Senior Open.

Mike Aitken previews the Open and says the old guys are reminding everyone they can still play, though Nick Faldo was the lone dissenter while Bernhard Langer thinks there should be more major exemptions for the geezers.

And to get your ready for the week's events, Daniel Wexler posts all of the pertinent links, including aerials for Sunningdale and Glen Abbey, what some say is Jack Nicklaus' best work in southeastern Ontario.


"Put it this way: Will Tiger let his own two kids carry on in public like that?"

Rick Reilly has had it with Tiger's on course antics:

The man is 33 years old, married, the father of two. He is paid nearly $100 million a year to be the representative for some monstrously huge companies, from Nike to Accenture. He is the world's most famous and beloved athlete.

And yet he spent most of his two days at Turnberry last week doing the Turn and Bury. He'd hit a bad shot, turn and bury his club into the ground in a fit. It was two days of Tiger Tantrums -- slamming his club, throwing his club and cursing his club. In front of a worldwide audience.

I would agree the club tossing is a bit much, but personally I love the swearing. Like this anecdote from Michael Bamberger's SI game story:

Tiger Woods likes to say "second sucks," and he acts as if he means it. When Steve Williams, Tiger's caddie, implored Woods to hit a provisional ball after a horrid way-right shot off the 10th tee last Friday, Tiger kept walking and muttered, "F--- it," before finally making a U-turn.


"I'm playing against Tom Watson, he's 59, he won his first major, I think, right around the time when I was born"

Steve Elling on Stewart Cink's conference call comments Wednesday after his Letterman appearance:

Cink would have had to be an idiot not to realize that his caddie was the lone man on the course pulling for him to beat the eight-time major winner and Hall of Famer. Rest assured, Cink is no moron.

"I knew that the people were really pulling for Tom to win, because that was the story that everyone wanted to be written," Cink said Wednesday in his first lengthy interview since winning. "It was, honestly, as a sports fan, it was a tremendous story.

"Maybe the biggest sports story in the last couple of generations and I was the one standing in the way of it. I had to really put that aside, though."

The magnitude of what he faced finally struck him when regulation ended.

"That really never got to be difficult until the playoff," he said. "That's when the bizarre stuff really started to hit me a little bit. Like, what, Tom Watson? You kidding me?

"I'm playing against Tom Watson, he's 59, he won his first major, I think, right around the time when I was born, and he's been winning tournaments ever since. You know, it was very strange."


"Nobody in the world’s going to want to take 70 million less."

With a contract expiring after next year's event, the PGA Tour has to be encouraged by today's comments from Deutsche Bank CEO's Seth Waugh:

“You can think of the golf tournament as a silly little thing in terms of what’s going on in the world,” Waugh said Wednesday, citing studies that put the economic impact of the Deutsche Bank Championship at $40 million to $70 million annually, “but these are the bricks that can build the economy back up. Nobody in the world’s going to want to take 70 million less.”


Sharp Park Images and Thoughts

My Golf World story on Sharp Park looks at the complicated battle over the future of Alister MacKenzie's gem in Pacifica, California. Many points are covered in the story and as you can imagine there is even more to say than I can fit in 2000 words, but I believe the story gets to the essence of this battle to save the place.

To supplement the piece, I thought I'd post a few images to give you a better idea what the property looks like and just how dynamic the MacKenzie vision was for this property.

The opening graphic is courtesy of MacKenziephile Sean Tully, who found this early course rendering in an old newspaper story. While it does not appear to be by MacKenzie's hand, it does appear in a style produced by his firm.  Tom Naccarato took the map and spruced it up, including some credit to designers Egan and Hunter who were a part of the job.

As always, click on the images to enlarge.

Early course rendering showing many of the dynamic design features (Click image to enlarge)

The Angus McSweeney clubhouse was completed by WPA crews (Click image to enlarge)

Wildlife of all types is abundant at Sharp Park (Click to enlarge)

Sharp Park Golf Course viewed from Mori Point (Click image to enlarge)

The approach to No. 2, a MacKenzie green complex screaming for some simple restoration of green size and bunker (Click image to enlarge)


View of the 3rd tee and golfers at Sharp Park. Monterey Cypress were planted by SF park legend John McLarren (Click image to enlarge)

View from behind the 13th tee, a beautiful par-5 with what remains of the Laguna to the left. (Click image to enlarge)

The approach to the 14th features classic MacKenzie mounding and a beautiful deception bunker placed well short of the green to reward drives from the left side (where one of the alternate fairway options was once in play). (Click image to enlarge)

Atop the sea wall with the 16th hole left and the Pacific to the right. (Click image to enlarge)


"If a 59-year-old guy looks like the best player in the field at a major championship, there is something wrong with your era."

Jaime Diaz files a provocative perspective on the Tom Watson run at Turnberry and comes away impressed by Watson but discouraged with the soft modern professional. This is no rant about the all-exempt tour (well there is the money angle), but mostly a statement about skill and the influence of today's equipment.

...the last round at Turnberry provided a revealing snapshot of the current era of golfers—and frankly, exposed them as wanting. For all their power and superior physiques and technical proficiency, the evidence keeps suggesting they are as a group (with one giant exception) competitively softer and less-accomplished shotmakers than their predecessors. And unless a few of them can come closer to being more like the giant exception, their place in history, much like the baby boomers, will end in the shadow of the golf equivalent of the Greatest Generation—a group including Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller and, of course, Watson—that ruled the game in the 1970s and into the 1980s.


"It's these little moments that make Open week different and memorable."

Alan Shipnuck's SI game story focuses on the communal aspects of this year's Open Championship, and includes yet another reminder that the game probably needs many more pitch-and-putts:

On the grounds of the hotel is a wonderful little pitch-and-putt, and that, too, was a place for the players and their families to unwind. Cink's boys, both tall and smart and a little shy like their parents, played the course a couple of times during tournament week. On Saturday evening Briny Baird and 2004 British Open champ Todd Hamilton enjoyed a spirited match, while nearby Butch Harmon was overseeing a rowdy skins game involving Rory McIlroy and a handful of friends and caddies, each playing multiple balls and employing old-fashioned stymies on the greens, which meant that instead of the balls being marked they were left in place as obstacles, leading to some billiards-style combos and very loud trash talk. It's these little moments that make Open week different and memorable.


Open Championship Mop Up

A few tidbits from Monday's aftermath of the Stewart Cink-Tom Watson Open at Turnberry.

Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:

Cink is a decent enough cove (although his invocation of the Almighty in his victory speech jarred with those who believe that God has more pressing matters to deal with the outcome of sporting events) but he acknowledged when asked if he felt like the villain in Hollywood romance who stole the hero's girlfriend, this was the victory no one wanted "Well as long as I get the girl I am OK with that," he said.

Steve Elling at

It's not Cink's fault, but millions invested their hearts with Watson. It felt like when Geoff Ogilvy inherited the U.S. Open title three years ago after Harrington, Furyk, Montgomerie and Mickelson all made a mess of the 18th hole. But mind you, Cink had four birdies over the last eight holes. He shot 69 and was the lone player who began Sunday within five strokes of the lead who broke par. So he clearly earned his win.

Thomas Bonk at

ABC had scheduled Watson to work Sunday's fourth round in the network's so-called halfway house, a booth near the lighthouse. But that didn't work out, of course, due to the fact that Watson happened to be leading the tournament at the time. On Saturday, Watson ran into ABC's Mike Tirico. Said Watson: "Am I fired?" Said Tirico: "You fired yourself."

A couple of encouraging remarks from Peter Dawson in this Mike Aitken piece regarding the age limit.

"I think there are many ways to phrase an exemption," reasoned Dawson. "I mean, one could have an extension of the age limit for any past champion who had performed particularly well.


"It's great to see the names of the past competing. But I do think it's important that we see them in a state where they are reasonably competitive.

Sounds like there will be some creative ways they can ensure he's eligible to 65 based perhaps on recent performance. However, creative and the R&A are not things you generally associate with one another.

Bob Harig at notes that Watson moved to 105th in the world rankings from 1,374th, a jump of 1,269 spots and says that "Official World Golf Ranking representatives said it is the biggest one-week jump since the rankings began in 1986."

He also writes:

The PGA of America is considering offering Watson an exemption into the PGA Championship next month at Hazeltine and has until Aug. 3 to finalize its invites. The PGA is the only major keeping Watson from having a career Grand Slam.

A Scottish Herald report (Douglas Lowe?) shares this interesting note:

Astonishingly for someone with his record, Watson still earned more for his second place - £450,000 - than he did in his previous 31 Opens.

His debut win at Carnoustie in 1975 was worth £7500, his "Duel in the Sun" triumph at Turnberry in 1977 earned him £10,000 and for Muirfield 1980, Troon in 1982 and Birkdale in 1983 the sums were £25,000, £32,000 and £40,000.

Watson's total earnings from the championship before this weekend were £368,592. Now they are £818,592.

Derek Lawrenson says he's hoping for a return to Turnberry...someday in the not forseeable future after the hotel is complete and they figure out a way to attract crowds.

This was the only Open I've attended in 26 years that didn't feel like an Open. Indeed, there was so little buzz during the first three rounds it felt like one of those minor European Tour events you see on Sky where the on-course commentator is doubling the audience.

OK, I'm exaggerating, but not by much.


Dottie's Commish Picks

There's a common theme among Dottie's three picks for LPGA Commish: they all know golf and have had their hand in the business side of the sport too. What a concept.


“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 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.


"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.


The Moon Shot posts the moon shot video and a transcript for today's 40th anniversary.


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.


"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.


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

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

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 (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!


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

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:


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?