Sunday, July 18, 2010

What Will Louis And Tiger Do Next?

Final thoughts from a surprising Open Championship at St. Andrews:

-- Now that Louis Oosthuizen has won at Augusta and St. Andrews this year -- he won the par-3 tournament at the Masters in April -- it will be interesting to see where his career goes from here. For a while now, he's been one of those guys lurking on the fringe of stardom but no one saw it coming in such dramatic style.

Oosthuizen dominated this Open, shooting 65 on Thursday, tacking on a 67 in the wind on Friday and cruising from there. Players have those charmed weeks but they rarely come with the Claret Jug on the line at the Old Course, especially when you've made just one previous cut in your major championship career.

Maybe this sets the new Oosty on a different career path. Or, maybe he's a guy like Paul Lawrie who has a nice career that includes an unlikely victory in the Open Championship.

-- Everybody wonders what Tiger Woods will do next.

I think he'll work on his game, get ready for the World Golf Championship event at Firestone in three weeks and try to figure out what's happened to his putting. Asked after his round Sunday if sticking the Scotty Cameron putter back in his bag for the final 18 holes was a sign he'll stick with it, Woods said he didn't know.

He's driving the ball well, better than he has in a couple of years, and his iron play is solid if not spectacular. But he can't get the ball in the hole.

There will continue to be speculation about whether he'll part with caddie Steve Williams -- I doubt it -- and whether he'll get a new swing coach -- probably not, at least not until after the season. What he needs, strange as it is to say, is some confidence, especially on the greens.

-- The Old Course showed it can still handle the world's best players. It needs wind but it was built to be played in the wind. When it started blowing, the Old Course could play defense and it did. Against every player but Oosthuizan.

-- Two Americans -- Sean O'Hair and Nick Watney -- finished in the top 10, tying for seventh. Sure, the professional game is more global than it's ever been but not having a challenger at St. Andrews underscored the stagnant state among American touring pros.

The older players -- Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Scott Verplank and Stewart Cink to name a few -- are on the down side of the curve while the younger guys -- Rickie Fowler comes to mind -- aren't there yet. That doesn't mean Mickelson doesn't have several prime years remaining, he should, but it appears American golf needs a transfusion of youthful energy.

-- It was very impressive of Rory McIlroy to put aside his second-round 80 and wind up tied for third.

McIlroy's meltdown on Friday may have been as surprising as Oosthuizan's victory. Rors, as he's called, looked invincible shooting 63 on Thursday and it seemed this might be his major to win. Then it fell apart, an experience that could have gutted him.. Instead, he kept going and equalled his best finish in a major championship.

Rickie Fowler also made an impression, tying for 14th after shooting 79 in the first round.

-- If anyone says there's a clear favorite at the PGA Championship next month at Whistling Straits, don't believe them.

Tiger may be listed as the favorite but if I had to pick one guy to beat right now, I'd start with Lee Westwood. Then again, it seems as if there's always one guy who beats Westwood in the majors.


Anonymous said...

Or better yet, will Phil even win The Open?

Anonymous said...

Louis O., Fowler and McIlroy were extremely impressive. Another sign the young guns are ready to take over from Tiger and Phil. The foreign players are flexing some muscle. The Americans better get on the ball. It will be and interesting few years.

Anonymous said...

Who really cares what Tiger will do next?

He's just another overpaid athlete who got caught with his pants down.

Kingward said...

Here's the deal. Sometime, a good while actually, after Tiger started with Haney, his driving went south. But that flat-stick continued making putt after crucial putt for several years.

But all that changed when Yang beat Tiger in the PGA a couple of years ago.

Not taking anything from Yang, who hit some great shots, but he beat Tiger solely because Tiger lost the ability only the great ones have - the uncanny knack of willing the ball into the hole.

Tiger has lost that ability, and he will never be great again unless he rediscovers it.