Thursday, July 17, 2008

Will it be British Open champion*?

Will it ultimately matter on Sunday when someone is handed the Claret Jug that Tiger Woods was not at Royal Birkdale this week?

Of course, it will.

How can it not?

It's a major championship, of which Tiger has won 14 of the past 46, and in the prime of his career, he's not there. Having proved last month that he can, in fact, beat the rest of the world on one good leg, Woods' absence changes the structure of professional golf.

Players have made the point this week that the Open Championship is bigger than one player and they're right. They've been chasing golf balls around the hay over there since 1860 and having your name etched on the trophy is an extraordinary achievement.

But when you hear Ernie Els talking about how ominous Tiger's presence is when he's in the field and you remember Sergio thanking Tiger for missing The Players Championship he won in May -- was Sergio joking? -- it's obvious who and what are missing.

Evidently the game itself spooks Els these days, based on his body language while shooting an 80 Thursday.

This is a moment -- as the PGA Championship next month will be -- when the Adam Scotts and Sergios need to take advantage of the opportunity. Tiger will be back next year and the status quo will return with him.

Someone will be proclaimed champion golfer of the year Sunday afternoon at Birkdale and read his name on the Claret Jug.

It won't have an asterik beside it.

At least not one that's visible.


Anonymous said...

Even when Tiger plays, 70% of the time someone else wins the major. To assume this year's winner would not have won if Tiger was in it means you are saying that the 30% occurence WOULD have taken place. Bad math assumption. Makes no logical sense. You cannot assume the LESS likely event would have occured as a way of diminishing the title winner's accomplishment.

clayj said...

I agree completely with the first comment. Tiger is not so good that he wins every tournament he chooses to win. And even if he was there, his 14-for-46 record in majors means that there would be a 32-for-46, or 69.5%, likelihood that he would not win.

There should be no asterisk, visible or otherwise, next to the name of the player who wins this tournament.