The 147th Open Championship Recap:
Where do I start? Tiger Woods? Carnoustie? Links Golf? Molinari? Spieth, Kisner, Schauffele? Pepperell shooting a hungover 67? The Open Championship provided all of the drama and excitement that any golf fan could hope for and then some. First off, hats off to Francesco Molinari. Since Memorial Day, he has 3 wins worldwide, including the BMW PGA Championship (one of the biggest events on the European Tour), Quicken Loans National, and now the Open Championship. The man is on fire and so is his bank account after bringing in $1,890,000 this week. The 35-year-old Italian has made it known he is a force to be reckoned with the remainder of this season and scarier, in the Ryder Cup. Francesco seems to be a laid back, cool Italian who just happens to be one of the purest ball strikers in the game. Shout out for bringing home a trophy for the 1/8th Italian in me. The motherland appreciates it.
A major player in this week’s success was the golf course itself. All the buzz coming into the Open was about how dried out and “firey” the course was. Vegas had the O/U for the winner at -14 at the start of play on Thursday. Even though the course was fast, making it play shorter, you saw -5 be the best score posted by Kisner. He did it more with an electric putter than towering drives. This can be attributed to a couple of things. There are over 200 bunkers sprinkled across the course protecting it from even the driest conditions. It is arguably the greatest collection of bunkers in the world. Couple that with the average fairway width of 26 yards wide, even in its “easiest” conditions the course is still protected. You saw unforgiving lies in the fescue which penalized the bombers that were errant off the tee. The greens were only rolling at about a 10 on the Stimp Meter yet, you didn’t see hundreds of feet of putts being made by every player in the field. That’s a credit to the numerous small breaks and intricacies on these greens. After three days your leader was at -9. Then the weather shifted. The Ol’ Scottish Lassie of the Sea blew a breath of wind across the coast at Carnoustie. That wind just happened to be about 20 mph and flipped the script. There were only 14 rounds under par, with the only ones of significance being, Molinari -2, Rose -2, McIlroy -1, and Big Eddie Pepperell’s fuzzy four under 67. This is what fans needed after the latest run of PGA events. Why can’t we see more courses like this on the PGA Tour Rota? Some of the Top-Rated Courses in this country are Links Courses. National Golf Links #8 on Golf Digest Top 100, Sand Valley G.C. #9, #18 Pacific Dunes, #36 Bandon Dunes and #44 Erin Hills just to name a few. Maybe I’m biased, but links golf is golf at it’s purest form.
What happened to Spieth, Schauffele and Kisner? They combined to shoot +11 on Sunday. Kisner was in the lead or tied for the lead after every round. Schauffele shot -9 combined in Friday and Saturdays rounds to put him with a share of the lead. Jordan just lost it, posting his worst round in a major ever. It just showed that the wind is the greatest equalizer when it comes to golf. Add in the pressure of the likes of Tiger, Rory, Justin Rose and Molinari breathing down your neck, it seems easy to succumb to that pressure. Regardless these three had good showings and it wouldn’t surprise me if any of them get a win down the stretch this season.
Two words. Tiger. Woods. He’s back, I already thought he was back, but now I know for a fact, with out a shadow of a doubt, he’s back. When you see, full recoil wedges out of bunkers, picking up the tee immediately after a tee shot, fist pumps, and just an overall look of confidence in the way he moved about the course. I had friends texting me saying, “It’s been the most incredible day of golf for the average fan, every shot has you on edge.” That is what Tiger being in the hunt, stalking his prey, having the lead and being there at the end does to this sport. Thank God he’s back. We need to enjoy this frenzy again because it’s what we’ve longed for since 2013. A bad break on 11 and that Birdie on 18 would have meant a little more. Tiger has an uncanny ability to grind the first 2 days of the tournament and then put it together on Saturday to move into contention. He did better this week by shooting two rounds of par and then coming in with a -5 under score on Saturday. It’s only a matter of time now if he is going to win another major. This was a big T-6 for him this week. He moved up to number 50 in the OWGR which qualifies him for the Bridgestone Invitational in 2 weeks at the South Course of Firestone Country Club, where he has won at 8 times. He will be my pick to make it 9, and in likely his only event between now and the PGA Championship, if he win’s you can bet money he will be the favorite going into St. Louis.
Picks: Rickie, Tiger, Tyrell, ZJ, Louis, Russell Knox.
Final total: -7
Humble brag, but take a look at all of the guys that I talked about last week in the Open preview….
The Barbasol Championship:
The Barbasol Championship made its inaugural appearance at Keene Trace Golf Club in Kentucky. This is an alternate event with a total purse of $3,500,000 compared to the normal $7 million or so. To be honest, I haven’t watched much coverage of this event but from what I have seen, it’s been low scoring and rainy. We’ve got bonus golf again sports fans. The final round was suspended at 4pm yesterday pushing everyone to Monday. The final two groups hadn’t even tee’d off on Sunday. Troy Merritt looks to have sealed up his 2nd PGA Tour win with a score of 23 under. Still Living Way Under Par out on the PGA Tour this season. His first came at the Quicken Loans back in 2015. Next week the Tour moves to Glen Abbey Golf Course in Ontario Canada. Notables in the field include, Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finay, Adam Hadwin, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, and Bubba.
Keep your eyes peeled for a preview of that event later this week.
Stay out of the Tight Lies,
Images by Golf Digest and BBC UK