Final UPDATE: The final update is posted in the comments below, albeit it is very brief. I apologize for leaving this unattended, but I had to play a concert at a cottage out in the country, and boy was there ever a lot of beer!!! Anyway, you can expect more regular golf coverage now that I'm back on the horse, although it will start with a recap of my own golf experience next weekend as we're off to lovely Belleville to play our Tour's annual showdown against a team from Southern Ontario. WE NEED OUR TROPHY BACK!!!
UPDATE (Day 2 – 8:30pm) – Ladies and gentlemen… We have a major championship with no Tiger Woods crap to watch on the weekend!!! I'm so happy to hear this, as most coverage ends up being 90% “the Tiger Show” and 10% “rest of the field”…
Firstly, let's check out the leaders. Tom Watson is sitting tied with Steve Marino at 5-under par. Watson, who is the oldest player in the field at 59 years of age, is following up on the great performance Greg Norman put on last year at the Open. The difference? Watson could actually keep this up!!! While Norman eventually imploded in the fourth round to lose to Padraig Harrington, Watson actually believes his experience is helping him in this tourney. He's already won 5 Claret Jugs, so why not one more?
Marino is a different story, as this would likely be his best two-round performance in a major since he entered onto the scene in the PGA. Either way, I don't believe he can hang on, despite my fondness for him in golf pools…
Woods missing the cut is huge, as generally he wins only if he is in the lead. This opens the door for guys like Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and any other player who tends to fade away when facing down the Cat in the final rounds…
I must say that I didn't get much time to watch today, as my kids were being absolutely mental, but I did notice players struggling with the gusting winds as I predicted in my last update. I'm looking at the weather forecast for for similar conditions to this round, and thinking that the field will really begin to sort itself out tomorrow. Remember, after one round we had 51 players under par, whereas after today we have a meager 21. In fact, only 7 players broke par today. I'm expecting more of that tomorrow, although I still firmly believe someone is still capable of a low number… More tomorrow, although I'll be performing at a friend's birthday party for most of the afternoon…
UPDATE (Day 1 – 3:00pm) – Well, the first round is in the books, and what an interesting leaderboard we have so far! At the top of the list is Miguel Angel Jimenez, who fired a 6-under for the outright lead over Tom Watson and Ben Curtis, who both sit at 5-under. The conditions today were ideal for scoring, with 51 players recording scores under par, a far cry from most major championships. A few interesting names are in the hunt, including John Daly. The fat man, always a crowd pleaser, fired a 2-under for his first round, showing that you can take the man out of the game, but not the game out of the man. Daly was recently serving a 6 month suspension from the US PGA Tour for his personal conduct. Maybe the time off helped him get his game (and tumultuous life) under control…
What can we expect for tomorrow? Well, according to the weather forecast, we can expect more traditional British Open conditions, as the temperature will drop slightly, the winds will pick up to gusts of about 20mph, and the rain will fall! This should re-align the scores to what we're all used to, at least somewhat. I still believe someone will post a low number tomorrow, likely between 4 and 6-under, similar to the first round, but I believe the majority of the field will actually fall back a little bit. We'll have to wait and see!!! I recommend you check back here for all the latest! Updates will come as the second round progresses!!
UPDATE (Day 1 – 12:00pm) – You likely wouldn't believe it, but Tom Watson is leading in the clubhouse at 5-under par. The 59 year old Watson is showing how patience and experience can trump raw power and exuberance, although there are still some low numbers available in the calm, still weather. Behind Watson, we have a large group of 8 golfers at 4-under, including Paul Casey, Soren Kjedlsen and Soren Hansen, who are still on the course. It is shaping up to be a very interesting Open… For you Canadian golf fans out there, Mike Weir is at 2-under with a pair to play, while Stephen Ames is at 3-over par with a pair to play… Tiger Woods is finished his first round, and sits at 1-over par, still well within range to make a run… Defending champioin Padraig Harrington is at 1-under after 8 holes and is playing very steadily… Finally, Anthony Kim put up a huge 9 on the second hole, but has somewhat contained that score and is at 3-over through 8 holes… More to come!
I apologize for the lack of golf coverage over the past few months, but things have been very hectic behind the scenes, and we're always working to improve the entire site, not just a particular area. That being said, we move forward to this week's British Open Championship at the Turnberry course in lovely (and sometimes unpredictable) Scotland!
Turnberry is an odd place for golf, as it once served as an airstrip during WW2. Most people would consider that to make for a boring tourney. However, consider that the course has been ranked as one of the top in the world pretty much since then.
Another great thing about the course is that it might set up for some good scoring, of course depending on the weather.
On to the field…
Tiger Woods has been shut out in the last 3 majors he has played, and he's obviously going to be the guy to watch for most people. As most of you know, I'm not a big fan of his, as he makes it look like a real “hard knocks” kind of life having to play a game for ridiculous amounts of money, but with Phil Mickelson not participating (due to a diagnosis of breast cancer for both his mother and wife, Amy), I'm intrigued to see if Tiger simply runs away with it, or has some competition from someone else.
My feeling is that Tiger won't win. Simply put, he seems to be in a groove, but not in a TIGER groove. He wins – 3 times thus far this season – but not when the big chips are on the line. I predict he'll be out of the top-5, but likely in the top-10.
So, who do we want to see on television, other than TW?
1 – Defending champ Padraig Harrington, who has won the event the last two years. Can a trifecta be in the cards? It's doubtful, as Paddy has not fully adjusted to some swing changes he made, and hasn't really placed well this season, missing the last 5 cuts he's been faced with. My bet would be 100% that he won't win this year.
2 – Rory McIlroy, the young (20 yrs old) player from Ireland. He'll definitely have a lot of crowd support, and has shown his temerity in major competition despite his young age. I believe he's a bona fide top-10 pick for this tourney, and I would love to see him make a wager about trimming off his Ronald McDonald hair should he fail to crack the top-10. Seriously, this kid could become a major force in professional golf in the next few years.
3 – Sergio Garcia, the “also-ran” so many times in the past. Sergio has played very well, and more consistently. I really like his odds, based on his imagination and shot-making ability, as well as the burning desire he has to finally “lose his virginity” in major tourneys. He's been a solid finisher in the past few Opens, and quite frankly, if anyone deserves a break, it is Garcia. For the record, he has 6 top-10s at the Open…
4 – Hunter Mahan, who might be the mark of consistency on the PGA Tour over the past season and a half, should figure into this. It all depends on the weather (in my opinion). Hunter has really taken the bull by the horns this season, having not missed a single cut. He's a player who could end up as the pinnacle of the post-Tiger generation, and he tends to really go with the flow of what is happening around him. I like his chances, and I like his game. In my golf pool last year, I basically discovered him based solely on his name!
5 – Finally, I'll suggest Jim Furyk as a non-Tiger element to this competition. Furyk has been quietly having a decent season, with 7 top-10 finishes, and a string of 3 top-12 finishes in his past 3 British Opens. Furyk seems to have faded out of the limelight in the last year or so, but he's still a steady guy. I think again that weather will determine (to some extent) his likelihood of taking home the Claret Jug, but his methodical approach to golf is a big reason why you should consider him in your pool…
As I will be watching every round from start to finish, you can expect this blog to be updated regularly, but for now, here's a bit of a course breakdown, along with tee-times…
A gentle start to the British Open, although it is best to keep it down the right side of the fairway to avoid four bunkers that start at 225 yards and end at 304 yards. Two other bunkers are on the right side, and the green is surrounded by four bunkers. The hole is named after the famous rock in the Firth of Clyde.
The motto of the second hole, which turns back toward the clubhouse, is “make sure.” The hole bends right to left and is protected by four fairway bunkers. One of the two bunkers around the green has been cut slightly closer to the green. The putting surface is deceptively long and slopes away to the left.
This plays into the prevailing wind, hence the name of the hole, which means “out of breath.” The hole has been lengthened by 27 yards since 1994, making it the longest par 4 on the course. Two fairway bunkers have been added in the landing area. Two bunkers guard the green on the right.
A gorgeous par 3 that runs along the Firth of Clyde, and the hole description warns against it. The hole is exposed to the seaside wind. The green is guarded by a deep pot bunker front and to the right, and a steep slope to the left.
Fin Me Oot
The back tee has been brought back, making this right-to-left hole play 33 yards longer than in 1994. Four bunkers flank the fairway between 250 and 320 yards from the tee, and four bunkers surround the green. The preferred tee shot is down the right side for the best view of the green. Subtle contours make birdie putts difficult to read.
This long par 3 features a large bunker to the front right and three smaller bunkers to the left of a slightly elevated green, which makes for an intimidating tee shot with a long iron. A “toorie” means something on the top, and the hole asks players to hit to the top of the high green. The putting surface slopes from back to front.
Roon The Ben
An elevated tee gives players a grand view of this picturesque par 5, which veers to the left. A big drive over a saddle leaves about 250 yards to the front of the green. It appears the approach funnels to the green, but there are two deep bunkers short of the green on the right and deep rough left of a valley near the green. There are fairway bunkers on either side demanding accuracy.
The name comes from the tallest peak on the Isle of Arran, northwest across the Firth of Clyde. Two new bunkers on the right side of the fairway at about 300 yards add to the difficulty of the tee shot, because it slopes to the right. Anything short could find three bunkers in front of the green, which has two tiers.
The only hole on the Ailsa Course without a bunker. The tee is perched on a rocky cliff, offering spectacular views of the coast. The hole makes its way up a narrow fairway toward the famous lighthouse. This was one of the few holes left unchanged from 1994. Remains of the castle belonging to Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland from 1306-1329, can be seen from the ninth green and 10th tee.
One of the most dramatic tee shots in golf, with the instructions: “don't mess about.” A new tee changes the angle of the hole to more of a dogleg left, with new fairway bunkers that allow players to decide whether they want a middle iron or a wedge to the green. The best angle to the green is from the right.
The Ayrshire coastline hugs the left side of this par 3, and Maidens village is to the north. The green is guarded by two small bunkers on the right and a large bunker on the left. The green slopes from right-to-left and back-to-front.
The monument on the hill above the green commemorates the lost airmen stationed at Turnberry during the two World Wars. This hole is long and straight, with a new fairway bunker to make the tee shot even more demanding. Three deep pot bunkers and a steep slope protect the front of the green, making it essential to have enough club.
A dogleg to the right that will tempt players to take on the corner, provided they avoid two bunkers between 250 yards and 270 yards. The green, which is elevated, is one of only two on the Ailsa course that is not guarded by any bunkers, although a sharp rise will keep shots from reaching the two-tiered green. The name refers to a green that requires a “tricky little stroke.”
Two new bunkers on the right between 300 and 320 yards make this hole live up to its nickname, for the two shots to reach the green must be daring and good. The new tee has been borrowed from the Kintyre Course. The green is protected by one bunker on each side in the front. The hole plays into a prevailing wind, making it even tougher.
The green is protected by three bunkers along the left side and a steep slope to the right, so any errant shot will be punished. Players thus should “take care.” The green slopes from the left and toward the back.
The stream, Wilson's Burn, doesn't look so small if the second shot is not struck properly. A new tee makes this hole play 45 yards longer and turned a dogleg right into a relatively straight hole, but the burn is more in play than before. The tee shot should be aimed up the right side to leave the best approach to the green. The green slopes from back to front, and anything to short risks running off the green into the stream.
A “good whack” is required for players to have a reasonable chance of reaching the green. The hole has been stretched an additional 60 yards, with new bunkers in the layup area and a new greenside bunker challenging the second shot. The green is protected by two bunkers on the left and two on the right. This is where Tom Watson two-putted for birdie in 1977, taking a one-shot lead when Jack Nicklaus missed a 5-foot birdie putt.
Duel in the Sun
The hole has been lengthened 30 yards with a new tee, with an additional bunker to the left in the driving zone. Players must decide whether to take on the corner of the dogleg left or play back. The green is slightly elevated, and anything short will be tossed to the left by the slope. The hole was renamed in honor of the 1977 British Open, when Watson shot 65-65 over the final two rounds to beat Nicklaus, who shot 65-66. The hole used to be called Ailsa Home.
Tee No. 1
About the Author
Written by Dan Rakusan
A huge Rangers (NHL), Falcons (NFL), PGA Tour and soccer fan, I have been writing semi-professionally for about 7 years now. I try to impart information with some degree of humour, and always have an opinion. PSB is another feather in my cap, and am really proud of the team assembled here, and look forward to the long-term journey PSB is embarking on in terms of establishing itself as the best sports blogging collective on the net! Look for articles such as 4-Play, Rangers blogs and PGA Tour updates, along with my NFL handicapping service!