Two weeks later, Jonas Blixt still doesn’t understand the criticism that was dished out in the aftermath of the Greenbrier Classic.
Sure, Blixt won the tournament, so it might sound like he’s devoid of objectivity. But for what it’s worth, the young Swede had no problem with the way things were conducted.
A heavy rain swept in early in the afternoon to halt the final round, so Blixt and the other leaders played into the early evening, “but it wasn’t too dark, at least I don’t think so,” he said.
Critics contend that Jim Justice, the owner of the Greenbrier, insisted that play would not be moved up, with players off both tees in threesomes, and that backfired.
Blixt doesn’t know if that’s true, but even if it is:
“He put up a lot of money, what, $12 million? So he can do whatever he wants.”
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HE’LL SAVE HIS DOUGH: Considering that he’s still relatively new to links and that the firm and fast Muirfield conditions this week are stunning (“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” he said), Keegan Bradley opted out of the customary money game played by Mickelson & Friends the Tuesday of big tournaments.
“I wanted to do a little more practice,” he said.
Instead, rookie Brooks Koepka jumped in alongside Dustin Johnson in a four-ball match against Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.
“It’s a tough spot for the kid,” Bradley said of Koepka.
Bradley said he jumped at the chance to join these games when he arrived on Tour in 2011. Yes, they’re a bit steeper than the usual $2 Nassau you might play with the boys Saturday morning. Bradley concedes he flinched just a bit when he signed on and was apprised of the wager.
“It’s not really a practice round,” he said. “You feel like you’re going, you’re in a tournament. But it can be good for you, with everything putted into the hole.”
Playing a few groups behind, Bradley heard that Johnson was on the losing end to Mickelson for the first time in a long time. It’s a testament, Bradley said, to how seriously Johnson takes these games.
“Dustin is as tough a money-game player as there is. Phil is right there, but Dustin is so tough,” Bradley said. “I always try to get him as a partner.”
Conversely, Mickelson has let it be known that he has a sterling record against Bradley. “I wish I could say he’s joking around, but I don’t ever (beat him),” Bradley said.
Having taken a bye this week, Bradley insisted he’d be back in the Mickelson game at the Bridgestone Invitational.
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VIEWPOINTS: Infatuated by links, stymied by pot bunkers, challenged by wispy grass, and turned off by black pudding, the annual sojourn to the Open Championship has offered much to ponder. To whit, a par four of thoughts:
• Two years ago the media made a pilgrimage into Holywood, Northern Ireland, to canonize Rory McIlroy. Now, the media rushes into Ireland to bury him. For what, exactly? Playing pedestrian golf? Being young and sorting out a busy world? Don’t get it.
• Bubba Watson, Nicolas Colsaerts, Dustin Johnson. Bombers times three. Understand that. USGA grouped them at Merion where drivers weren’t required. Now the R&A is doing similarly at Muirfield where drivers aren’t required. Like pairing Nicholson, DeNiro, and Hoffman in a silent, slapstick comedy.
• Muirfield might be the firmest and fastest an Open has been since Hoylake in ’06, but to back Tiger Woods because of what he did that warm and dusty week outside of Liverpool is to ignore a simple fact: Woods isn’t the player he was in 2006.
• When in Scotland with clubs, rush to North Berwick.
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PLUSH DIGS: Used to be when the Open Championship rolled into Muirfield, there was only one place to stay if you had celebrity and status: Greywalls, the hotel that sits adjacent to the ninth green and 10th tee at the famed links.
But since 2002, the last time the Open was at Muirfield, the Renaissance Club has come online and made quite a splash. Designed by Tom Doak and opened in 2008, the golf course has matured into a spectacular test and the panoramic views high above the Firth of Forth are incredible. What has attracted players such as Scott, Vijay Singh, and Jimmy Walker to stay and visit there, though, is a combination hard to beat – a spacious practice area, a sprawling clubhouse, and comfortable quarters far away from the Open crowds.
The buzz at the Renaissance Club is that it could be a potential home to a future Scottish Open, the week before the Open Championship.
Castle Stuart has hosted the Scottish Open the last three years, but it will move to Aberdeen in 2014. Where to in 2015? Nothing is official, but no one would be surprised if the Renaissance got into the mix.
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FINAL TAP-IN: Asked if he had seen the magazine shoot in which Gary Player joined other notable athletes in posing nude, Scott smiled.
“He’s a fit man, fair enough. (But) I wouldn’t know that I’ll be going out of my way to check him out, though.”