The Open Championship- Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Course – Lancashire, England
This year’s Open Championship will be remembered for many things. The chance that Paul Lawrie, a 46 year old past Open winner might rise again, and after 3 days it looked like that might happen. The idea that Tiger was back, his form and focus looked so good, but I have to question the strategy of laying back so far on most holes and then trying to hit such long shots into the green. And for that matter, trying to muscle 7 and 8 irons nearly two hundred yards. Why does he try to do that and swing so hard, doesn’t he have a 6 or a 5 iron?
But for me, this year and for years to come, this week will be remembered as the year Adam Scott gave away The Open Championship. Not since Jean van de Velde’s infamous collapse on the 72nd hole at Carnoustie in 1999 (Carnoustie, which I played on my pilgrimage to Scotland) have I witnessed such a tragedy. I was completely dumbfounded by the lack of focus Scott exhibited in the last four holes of the Open Championship.
It started on the Tee of the 15th hole where Adam had a 4 shot lead with 4 to play, and it seemed that all we had to do is watch as the Butch Harmon disciple (and as many have put it, a guy who has Tiger Woods’ old swing, not to mention his former caddie) won his first of many majors. It was not to be. Scott finished with an improbable 4 straight bogeys, something this insomniac never saw coming. I was awake watching the championship in the wee hours of Sunday morning when Scott, after missing a par putt on the 18th hole, a putt that would have gotten him into a playoff, ended what for 68 holes was a nearly flawless performance.
Ernie Els needed a birdie to have any chance to force a playoff and that is exactly what he did. Els, a 2 time US Open winner (1994 and 1997) and a 2002 Open Winner, willed in an amazing birdie on 18. He smashed his drive into the teeth of the wind over the bunkers some 285 yards and then an approach to 20 or so feet and sunk the putt cold. A perfect play for the 3 time major winner. Scott needed a par to force a playoff and I am not sure what happened there. Adam needed to hit the fairway and avoid the bunkers off the tee, but a loose tee shot and boom in the bunker forced him to go out sideways. He had some 180 yards left and hit to about 11 feet. As we’ve seen before in so many majors, he needed a put to extend the tournament. He missed the putt by a hair and that was it—it was over not with a bang and cheers but a hush and sigh. He held the 54 hole lead at the end of the 3rd day and after holding the lead for much of the 4th, he gave it all back on the last four holes.
I think Adam needs to call van de Velde, for he may be the only one in history who can truly relate to the shock and disappointment he is feeling right now. Adam is a great player and a wonderful ambassador to the game. He handled the tragedy with grace and humility and it is my sincerest of hope that he learns and regroups from this and continues to persevere. I don’t want to take anything away from Ernie Els win, he overcame a 7 shot deficit to win the tournament, and he got it done, especially the last two holes. However, it was Adams’ tournament for 68 holes. As we all know, 68 holes does not a tournament make.
It should be noted that 3 of the last 4 majors have been won with the belly putter, and this year first and second place were achieved with a belly and long putter respectively, I think the USGA and R&A will have to have some discussions around this and put the issue to bed once and for all. I myself have putted with the long, belly, and standard putter and it is my opinion that whatever gets the job done for you is what you should use.
The idea that the belly or long putter is somehow cheating for the professional tour is ludicrous and when commentators on TV say that it should be disallowed as silly. If all players play by the same set of rules, which they do, then it’s a personal choice and a choice that should remain. If players feel they are at disadvantage, they are free to use the belly putter, the rules allow for it so avail yourself of the option. If you choose not to then that is your choice and let the chips fall where they may.
I have a question on the rules for all of you rules aficionados. If you were watching the telecast the last day, on the 7th hole Brandt Snedeker hit is ball into the trees left. He then hit a provisional ball off the tee. His caddie then found the ball in the trees and yet Brandt elected to play the provisional ball. It is my understanding that if you find your first ball and it is in play you must play that ball and abandon the provisional, or you can elect to declare the first ball unplayable and proceed with the unplayable lie (rule 28). And by the way, how is it possible that with all the resources at their disposal, Paul Azinger who himself played on the PGA tour for many years, does not know the rules of golf when it comes to taking an unplayable lie in a bunker? Azinger said you could drop outside the bunker which is not the case. You get two club lengths no nearer to the hole and must drop inside the bunker, or you could replay the previous shot and in that case you would drop where you last hit. Back to Snedeker: Does anyone know how and under what rule he was allowed to play his provisional ball after he found the original ball in the trees? I know he could have declared that ball an unplayable lie, abandoned his provisional ball, and then went back to the tee to rehit a new tee shot, but he did not do that. Instead he played the provisional ball. Am I completely off base here? If you have a thought on this I would love to hear it, please post on our GolfDiscount Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you. Until next time, this is the Golf Insomniac signing off.