Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Beyond The Fourth: Rory, Morgan Pressel and More

   With the Fourth of July behind us and the Open Championship a week away, a few observations on the game today:
   -- The Rory McIlroy lovefest resumes next week at Royal St. George's where he'll make his first competitive appearance since scorching the field in the U.S. Open.
   McIlroy is the betting favorite -- what, you thought Bubba Watson would be? -- but Royal St. George's is known for its quirky nature which could throw an added element of uncertainty, okay, let's call it luck, into the championship.
    It's not a course that's at the top of many favorites list when it comes to layouts in the Open rota. It's nearer the bottom of most lists, but the Open almost always produces good drama, last year being the exception.
   Can an American win?
   Stranger things have happened. Ben Curtis won at Royal St. George's eight years ago.
  -- Yani Tseng is the obvious player to beat in the U.S. Women's Open this week but I'm hoping Morgan Pressel wins.
    Pressel has been a very good player for several years and she's worked to hit the ball longer, her major challenge. A Women's Open title is big for anyone but it seems as if it it might be even bigger for Pressel.
  -- I'm looking forward to reading 'The Swinger,' co-written by Michael Bamberger and Alan Shipnuck of Sports Illustrated. It's a fictionalized version of Tiger's tale and it's getting good reviews. Check out Ron Green Sr.'s review at www.charlotteobserver.com/golf.
   -- Jack Fields' victory in the North & South Amateur last weekend at Pinehurst No. 2 had a good feel to it, given the fact he's from Southern Pines. He's preparing to turn pro and winning at Pinehurst reinforced his decision.
   It was the first major event played at No. 2 since the restoration by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. While the greens were slower and softer than they ideally would be -- they're being very careful with the new grass through the summer -- the reviews were overwhelmingly positive about the course changes.