Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What If Phil Had Dominated Like Oosthuizan?

Dispatches from Scotland, where the Open Championship is over and gone but where I remain, at least until Thursday:

-- Here's a question to ponder: If Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson had won the Open Championship in the same way Louis Oosthuizan did --by seven shots in a performance that bleached the drama out of the event -- how would different would the perception be?

Because it was Oosthuizan, the tournament became a bore. Had Tiger done the same thing, we'd be talking (and I'd be writing) about it being one of the most dominating performances in his career. Granted, Tiger has 14 majors, Oosthuizan now has one.

It's too bad the tournament wasn't better from a spectator standpoint. It fell flat, even at the Old Course. Tournament officials felt it, everyone felt it.

There were empty sections in the massive grandstands during the tournament. Part of it was due to the generally foul weather that hit the tournament. Another part was an attendance dip this year, though more than 200,000 fans were on site through the week.

The changes to the Road Hole -- the extra length from a new tee -- worked just fine. The hole remains one of the hardest pars in golf and I don't think putting the tee back compromised anything.

-- Did Oosthuizan get a break with the weather?

Of course he did. But that's part of tournament golf and especially at the Open Championship where they still insist on starting every player from the first tee. If they double-teed them as they do at every other event (starting on 1 and 10 in morning and afternoon waves), it might have helped even out the conditions.

As it was Oosthuizan seemed to catch a bad break playing midday Thursday when conditions began to worsen but he got the best of it by far Friday morning before the winds came howling.

Conditions change. At Hilton Head each April, the players who play early on Thursday and Friday almost always shoot lower scores because the wind picks up in the afternoon. Early players also get the best greens.

Open Championship officials say they don't intend to start double teeing players in the future, though it would be a nice move because it would make for a shorter day for everyone and make the conditions closer to equal.

-- Having heard so much about how great Kingsbarns Golf Club is, I got to see it Saturday and it's spectacular. It's about five miles down the coast from St. Andrews and it's among the best courses I've ever played.

The setting is stunning and they did a terrific job of fitting a fair course into an extraordinary location.

It's so good that several tour players were there Saturday and Sunday while waiting to catch the charter back to the Canadian Open Sunday night. Gary Player was there on Sunday as were Mike Weir, Scott Verplank and Ryan Moore, among others. And Verplank played Kingsbarns after playing the final round of the Open that morning.



Anonymous said...

OosthuizEn. Look it up!

Anonymous said...

If Phil had won it would have been a miracle. If Tiger had won most of us would be sick of your fawning by now.

There is a pretty good crop of youngsters coming up right now. Maybe Oosthuizan is the latest omong them.