Since I’m still buzzing over a dramatic week at Royal St George’s, I thought I’d get some thoughts off my chest from the Open Championship before I head to the women’s version at Carnoustie next week.
1.) Anyone can win on a links – If this Open Championship proved anything, it’s that the field is wide open in the Open Championship. Darren Clarke was a 150-1 shot and carried off the biggest prize in golf. He was even the long shot to finish low Irishman, at 20-1 behind Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington. He joins recent long shots in Louis Oosthuizen, Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis. So if you fancy a wager on next year’s Open at Royal Lytham, look down the batting order. And next time the Open heads to England’s most southerly links, place your money on a supposed no hoper. Three of the last five winners at Royal St George’s have been the longest of long shots – Bill Rogers (1981), Curtis (2003) and Clarke.
2.) Phil Mickelson can win an Open Championship – Lefty came within one brain malfunction of winning the old Claret Jug. His sloppy missed par putt at the 11th stopped his momentum. However, his second place finish should give him succour. He can win the game’s oldest major.
3.) Tone down the Rory hype – Rory McIlroy’s a good player, good kid, but let’s not think he’s going to win every major, or even contend in every one. He isn’t.
4.) The game is ageless – Seeing Tom Watson and Tom Lewis at St George’s proved that age is no barrier to success. There were 41 years between them, yet both provided a lot of drama last week.
5.) Playing in torrential rain isn’t fun – I don’t care what the players said, playing in a combination of howling wind and pelting rain is not fun. Challenging, yes. Fun, no. I have experience of this, and what the players went through on Saturday is just miserable.
6.) Time for an American major win – We’re pretty bullish over here about Europeans or European Tour players winning the last six majors, but six Americans in the top 10 last week proves U.S. players are close to breaking the Euro monopoly.
7.) We want more Rickie – As in Fowler. He gained a lot of British fans last week. We’d love to see more of him over here. He’s the real deal, and he’s genuinely nice, too.
8.) Players need to mind their manners – Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, World Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, missed the cut last week. Donald stopped to talk to the media, Westwood refused. Westwood was out of order. He should have stopped to talk to waiting scribes. It goes with being a professional.
9.) The Open should go to Royal Portrush – If a tiny village two hours from London can stage an Open, then a small town an hour from Belfast can too. After three Northern Irish major winners in the last three years, the R&A are right to give serious consideration to one of Ireland’s greatest courses.
10.) Fat is as good as fit – As Darren Clarke’s manager Andrew “Chubby” Chandler said, “Darren plays better when he’s carrying a bit of timber.” By timber, Chandler means fat. The Irishman left Sandwich talking about going on a diet. He might need to reconsider after his Sandwich exploits. We’ve been fed this theory, mostly promulgated by Tiger Woods, that fitness and performance go hand in hand. Rubbish! As Laura Davies once said about the fitness fad, “it’s just walking and swinging a club.” Hear, hear.