Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Bhnker Shots: On Oakmont, Tiger and Sergio

A few bunker shots while waiting for the British Open next week:

-- There's not a tougher U.S. Open test than Oakmont which will add to the curiosity factor surrounding the U.S. Women's Open this week. The Open is always largely about the golf course and this one won't be any exception, especially watching players deal with greens that may be as tough as any. It's not a question of whether over-par will be the willing score but how many over par will the winner be.

-- Is Justin Rose ready to win a major championship?

He'll arrive at St. Andrews next month as the hottest player in the game and he's sure to get some attention in the Ladbroke's betting shops. He wouldn't be my first choice, though.

Rose may contend, he's been playing too well to ignore him, but if the weather cooperates and adds some atmosphere to St. Andrews (something that was missing the last two times the Open Championship was played there), it brings so many factors into play.

Ian Poulter, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood come to mind as worth putting a few pounds on. I want to say Phil Mickelson can win -- and he can -- but he's never done much in the Open Championship. Maybe St. Andrews will inspire him like Augusta National does.

And, I still think Tiger is the player to watch at St. Andrews. I don't care that he shot 79 in the first round of the Irish pro-am he's playing this week. If he can get some putts to fall, he's going to win again. And he's talked so often about how much he likes St. Andrews, I like his chances.

That's been my story and I'm sticking to it.

-- The U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship comes to Greensboro's Bryan Park Champions Course next week and it's a terrific setting. It's a 36-hole facility owned by the city and operated by the Bryan Foundation and it's a model for what a municipal facility could be.

It doesn't hurt that designer Rees Jones was given a great site with tons of lakefront property on which he could put the course. It's hard to imagine many munis getting a setting like the one at Bryan Park. If you're looking for a road trip one day, make the ride up to play the Champions Course, which was once considered the future site of what is now the Wyndham Championship.

-- I read someplace recently about the possibility that Sergio Garcia might not make the European Ryder Cup team this year. Seems far-fetched given his passion for the event but that seems to be the only thing that stirs his golf passion. He's become almost invisible, which is a disappointment not just for him but for us.

Sergio is one of those characters who makes you pay attention. Like him or not, he matters. But not the way he's been playing. His body language these past few months has made it clear he's not having fun.

I'm not ready to write him off. I still think he's got a major win or two in his future but not the way he's been going.