Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The British Open - "Champion Golfer of the Year"

This Week we’ll find out if there really is “Life Without Tiger” as the British Open, or the Open Championship as the Brits haughtily call it becomes the first Major Championship sans Tiger since Woods started his professional career.

Trust me on this, the tournament will be played. It will last a minimum of 72 holes and the player with the lowest score will be declared the “Champion Golfer of the Year.” The only difference there is that it’s guaranteed the winner won’t be Tiger.

There has been some bollix (a British term roughly translated as BS) about putting an asterisk beside the winner’s name because Woods is in absentia. That is truly bollix. The winner is the winner—period. His accomplishment is no less than if Tiger was in the field.

A quick visit to, the official bookie of the PGA European Tour has installed Sergio Garcia as a 12/1 favorite followed by Ernie Els at 16/1. Personally, I’d put a bob or two on Ernie way before I’d think about Sergio. The Spaniard’s melt down at last year’s Open is too fresh in my mind to even think about him. Rounding out the Top 10 and ties, Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson are 20/1 Geoff Ogilvy, Jim Furyk and defending champion Padraig Harrington are installed at 25/1. Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Stewart Cink and Vijay Singh at 33/1 round it out.

Westwood is making a nice comeback, but his putting might get shaky in the clutch. Mickelson hits the ball too high for a true links course. There’s just too much wind. Out of the rest of the Top 10 the names that stand out are Ogilvy and Rose. Ogilvy can usually be found hanging around the lead in a Major and Rose has matured into a fine player in his own right. Also, as a teenager Rose exploded on the world golf scene in the Open on Royal Birkdale 10 years ago finishing fourth.

There were some interesting odds posted. Greg Norman and John Daly are 500/1 which is better than Mark O’Meara’s 1,000/1. Rocco Mediate the hero of the U.S. Open is a 200/1 pick. Watch for Miguel Angel Jimenez at 40/1. The Tour’s new glory guy Anthony Kim at 50/1 is a bit over valued. He may have the game, but he doesn’t have the experience. Boo Weekley and Camilo Villegas are teeing off at 100/1.

Regardless of who wins, he deserves it whether Tiger is there or not.


The New York Times ran a story this week about how much cheating goes on in golf. It didn’t focus on professional golf, but by the rank and file average golfers. They said that most of it is changing the lie from bad to good. They’re probably right. The USGA and the R&A could alleviate this problem with just one rule. DON’T TOUCH THE BALL. Think about it if the only times you touch the ball are to tee it up and clean it on the green, everything else is simple. If you do touch the ball, it’s a two stroke penalty. It eliminates any misunderstandings.

While they’re at it, there are a couple of other changes that should be made. Stroke and distance is double jeopardy. When a ball is hit out of bounds the golfer should be able to drop a ball within two club lengths from the spot the ball crossed the out of bounds marker and penalized one stroke. The same goes for a lost ball. Once it is agreed by all players in the group where the general area a ball was lost, the player who lost the ball should be able to drop a ball with a one stroke penalty. I think this is fair and I know it would cut down the time it takes to play a round.

I would like to think that most golfers follow the rules. In truth, the rules help the golfer more than they hurt him. Follow the rules and maintain your integrity. Bend them and lose it.

Bartender a pint of Watneys if you please, it’s British Open week and one must have a pint of British ale to get in the mood for the proceedings.


See you on the first tee.


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