Open Championship Final Reads Vol. 1

openlogo.jpgFor those of you who didn't get to see The Golf Channel's "Nike Roundtable" segments from Hoylake featuring Stephen Ames, David Duval, Paul Casey and Stewart Cink answering Rich Lerner's questions, all I can say is, pray for a DVD. Though no price could be put on a 2-disc set of this charismatic and humble foursome discussing the key issues facing the game, we can always hope (that it'll cost less than those Hoylake limited edition photos they were peddling all week).

Ah, but you ask, how about The Open won by Tiger Woods doing Ben Hogan better than Ben Hogan. Yes that was pretty neat, as Lawrence Donegan writes:

Woods, who won at the Old Course of St Andrews last year, is the first player to defend his Open title since Tom Watson in 1982. He has now won three Opens and barring illness, injury or a sudden desire to pursue a career on the stage, he will win a handful more, not least because his contemporaries tend to shrivel at the crux, their talents disappearing into the black hole of Wood's presence.

At the start of the week he formulated a plan for negotiating Hoylake's tight, running links - long-irons off the tee, long-iron to the green -and stuck to it rigidly throughout, even when he found himself as much as 50 yards behind his playing partners on some holes. On a course like this control, not distance is what counts and, as the old golfing phrase goes, Woods had his ball on a string. Over the first nine holes yesteday he had eight tap-in pars and, courtesy of the 30-foot putt that fell into the centre of the cup at the par-five 8th hole, an eagle.
Come on, Hoylake played a big part in this too. This less-than-sexy links proved why Low and Darwin and Dickinson wrote about it years ago. So Peter Corrigan decided to bring up Ron Whitten's Golf Digest story, which definitely won't be remembered like the works of the aforementioned.
Among the most satisfied will be those happy to be described as crusty traditionalists. For this tournament was a throwback to the days when golf's problems couldn't be solved by graphite shafts, titanium faces or self-propelled balls. The course needed thought not torque; guile and gumption not power and passion. And while the figure of Tiger Woods was awesomely dominant, the rheumy-eyed could still visualise the long grey beard and top-buttoned tweed jacket of Old Tom Morris, the ghost of Opens past.
And this is really funny...
I spoke the other day to Golf Digest's esteemed editor, Jerry Tarde, who doesn't necessarily agree with the views of his contributors but pointed out that Whitten is regarded as the world's foremost expert on golf architecture.
And Jerry, who was it who branded him that?
That probably makes his words even more depressing, because if he is an example of golf's modern visionaries, the old-fashioned fraternity must fear for the future.

After rubbishing Hoylake he went on to predict that "sooner or later, every Open course will become obsolete, the Old Course at St Andrews included".

What! Every links course around these shores? The very foundations of the game to become museum pieces? He neglects to say what sort of courses will supersede them for eminence.

The Telegraph's Martin Johnson salutes Tiger and Hoylake, and sadly, gets it right about American golfers too.
Hoylake, a thinker's golf course, attracted the usual nonsensical criticism from some Americans, including the author of an article in Golf Digest with the headline "Royal Out Of Bounds". They really don't get it over there. Unless a course is full of palm trees, dyed blue water and motorised cart tracks they think the place must be a municipal pitch and putt. But it's their loss.
Gary Player has been here watching and, in between his customary routine of telling everyone that four million press-ups before breakfast is the way to eternal youth, he hasn't particularly enjoyed watching Woods hitting iron after iron. "It's not very exciting for the galleries, and I'm quite sure the crowds would have loved to see him booming the driver," Player said. "Mind you, the way technology is going, I promise you this. In 100 years' time they'll be saying, 'That Tiger Woods was a helluva player. But wasn't he a short hitter!'."

The crowds might well have preferred to watch Woods booming it out there, but this tournament continues to attract galleries so enthusiastic that there was even a crush around the practice area yesterday morning to watch Retief Goosen chipping. In the list of unexplained mysteries, this would rank somewhere between the Mary Celeste and the Bermuda Triangle.
Lynne Truss of Eats, Shoots and Leaves fame knows her golf as evidenced in this examination of Sergio's lousy Sunday at the Open.
Woods grows in stature exponentially, and he continues to make terrific golfers look completely ordinary. Maybe the yellow outfit was not just a sartorial mistake on García’s part; maybe it was meant to be a secret weapon, to make Woods think continually, “But why? Why wear yellow? Even the hat?” But even that failed to put him off his stroke.
Speaking of Sergio, thanks to reader Van for this Graham Spiers story in the Herald:
Yet following his round, it was almost as if Garcia's personal psychologist had grabbed him on his way to meet the media and told him: "Don't be negative. Don't be down on yourself. Talk yourself up." Because what we encountered was a young man with a strange set of comments on a very poor final day, and never more so than on the green.

"I hit some great putts today and I felt very good with my putter," said Garcia. "I hit some great putts that just didn't want to go in. That's the best I've felt with my putter, but they just kept lipping out."
Then, most bizarrely of all given this last-round lack of a challenge, was this from Garcia. "This shows me that when I'm in this position the next time, I can handle it."

Putting, in the wider context of golf, is a complex matter. We know this because, earlier this week, Peter Thomson claimed "never" to have been "a good putter", and Thomson won the Open five times between 1954 and 1965.

Yet the fact remains, this duel yesterday between Woods and Garcia delivered a cruel lesson. While Garcia's putts wouldn't drop, those of Woods in the main usually did. In truth, over these five hours over Hoylake, we saw why Woods is a great golfer, and why Garcia is merely a very good one.
We also saw again why Woods is a godsend to the world of sport. He has now won 11 majors, seven short of his ambition of equalling and beating Jack Nicklaus' magical record of 18. Up there, Earl Woods will be excited by the chase.

In a business renowned for its crocodile tears, not all emotion in sport is contrived or artificial: anyone who witnessed Tiger Woods disintegrate into uncontrollable sobs after winning the 135th Open at Hoylake last night will testify to it. For Woods, this was a win imbued with special feeling.
In the odds and ends department, Ed Sherman offers his birdies and bogies from Sunday's round. Like many writers, he's not wild about Sergio's outfit that appears to have come from one of Doug Saunders' garage sales.

And here's an AP story on the purple paint vandalism.

Finally, Paul MacInnes writes about the spat between the BBC's Peter Alliss and Gary Lineker, which will mean something to those of you lucky enough to watch the BBC's weekday coverage:
But sometimes the crunchiest matters cannot be avoided and so the question must be asked: do Peter Alliss and Gary Lineker get on? Ever since this month's issue of Golf International hit the shelves, it has been clear that the pair are not seeing eye to eye. In a sizzling Alliss exclusive, the Voice of Golf said of Lineker and his infamous Masters debut: "He's very good at reading the autocue. Knowing how nervous he was, I'd have given him a seven out of 10."