Unsurprisingly, I followed the Open pretty closely . . . Given a few days to digest, here are my reflections:
1) Phil Mickelson . . . he has won 3 of 4 majors, 5 overall . . . his place in golf already secure, he has is now the undisputed number two golfer of his generation behind Tiger. (Ernie Els comes in 3rd with a crowded group tied at 4th).
2) Phil’s 66 was one of the best displays of golf this side of Tiger 2000. His was up and down on 16 (after a bad break tee shot) – legendary in its own right. His 3-wood, 3-wood on 17 for a tap-in birdie probably won him the Claret Jug. His fearless approach on 18 that could have brought a sandy disaster into play (had he been even a foot or two to the left) was quintessential Phil. His cold-hearted birdie putt confirmed what we’ve all now come to know about his bold attitude toward the game. We witnessed a true play the best round of golf in his life – AND on the biggest stage golf as to offer.
3) Muirfield lived up to its traditional reputation and the R&A proved it could be flexible (if not with its admissions policies). The salty lady provided a terrific test for the pros. When the greens grew downright unfair . . . the R&A addressed it. There were no issues. The names on the leaderboard were stars and the ultimate victor was what exactly we’d expect from a true Muirfield champion: an all-time great.
4) Tiger is THAT close . . . but his mental game, once a tremendous asset, is still holding him back. His desire is actually causing him to push too hard – hence, frustration and impatience. That’s the difference between excellent golf and major-championship golf. Everything else about his remains right where it needs to be.
5) Lee Westwood had a strange round. One of the best ball-strikers in the game (with one of the most frustrating short games) ironically ended up being let down by his ball striking and held together with his putting. That’s gotta hurt. He’s running out of chances.
6) Adam Scott was 100% on his mark as well, leading at one point at -2. There will be other majors as long as he putts with that broom handle. (In fact, he may think about switching . . . His putting didn’t help out much on Sunday).
7) Beware Henrik Stenson. He’s back from his second slump and looks poised to do some serious damage the rest of the year.
8) Rory is lost at the moment. He is WAY too talented to be gone for long, but he needs to “bed-in” his lifestyle changes right now. Part of that is deciding to be who he really is: a jet-setting player like Ernie Els and Gary Payer used to be. Another factor is that he still requires time to learn how to hit effectively with his new clubs. Finally, he should probably just live in Dave Stockton’s garage and make his short game bulletproof. I think he’ll get there – but probably not this year.