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THE 2005 BRITISH OPEN - IN REVIEW - TIGER STRIKES AGAIN

July 13, 2005 - ON THE EVE OF THE BRITISH OPEN - Within a few short hours the early starters will be teeing off at the 2005 British Open. Not just any Open but a British Open being played at the home of golf, St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland. This is the original golf course and most probably the first place where golf was played, but we are not totally sure of that fact. In any case this place is special in the history of this great game. This course was designed by nature; by wind, confluence of river and sea, burrowing animals and natural bent grasses plus wild shrubs and weed that grow in these terrains. To anyone who has played this course it is the greatest course in the world, to those who see it for the first time, as Sam Snead did years ago, it looks barren, gray, like a pasture and not much more.

To add to the history of this place, this will be Jack Nicklaus’ last major tournament as a competitor. It is a terrific way to go out as the British, Scots and Irish are huge Nicklaus fans. Jack won three of his 18 major titles here in Scotland and if you do not understand how significant The Golden Bear is in the annals of golf, watch this weekend and the reception he receives as he walks from green to green and then especially as he makes his way to the clubhouse on the 18th either Friday, or Sunday, depending on whether or not he makes the cut. These folks will show the world how much they respect the accomplishments of Mr. Nicklaus.

Now, the betting favorite is Tiger Woods. The betting firms have it at 5-2 to 3-1. Ernie Els is second in betting followed by Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. In fact, it appears that most prognosticators have Tiger the winner come Sunday. My question is, can another Todd Hamilton or Ben Curtis come out of the pack to post another surprise American victory as in 2003 and 2004. I tend to think Vijay might be ready to win here, but his long range putting is suspect. Can Retief Goosen overcome his collapse at the US Open and find a way to finish off another major? Previously, this year, I had predicted that the American golfers would take three of the four majors. It is still possible but I am feeling queasy about that prediction. My most recent gut feeling is that one of the top golfers from the British Isles will persevere. Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomery come to mind.

Get up early and turn on the “tele” and enjoy what promises to be a very entertaining and exciting four days.

July 14, 2005 - TIGER FAST OUT OF THE GATE AT OPEN - Tiger Woods, heavily favored to win his 10th major title, went out early today and posted a six under 66 to take charge of this great event from The Old Course at St, Andrews. His score held up from start to finish at The Open today. Jack Nicklaus playing in his last significant tour event managed a three over 75 which will put him in jeopardy of not making the cut tomorrow. All eyes will be on The Bear as he makes perhaps his last attempt at golfing glory at this venerable course where he has won on two previous occasions. Australian, Mark Hensby, who is fast becoming a major tournament dynamo, fashioned a five under 67 to finish alone in second. Thus far season Hensby has had a tie for fifth at The Masters followed by a tie for third at the US Open. Watch out for this guy who is hot having shot a final round 64 last Sunday at the John Deere.

Four under 68 is a real popular position to be in as no less than 10 golfers signed for this score including Retief Goosen, Luke Donald, Jose Maria Olazabal, Fred Couples, Chris Riley and Scott Verplank. US Open champ, Michael Campbell is at three under along with Vijay Singh. Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott are at two under.Highly ranked Lefty Mickelson and Ernie Els are at plus two and struggling eight back of Tiger.

The English bookies seem to know their business as Tiger, a 5-2 betting favorite, will be very difficult to catch. He will, however, go out later in the day tomorrow requiring him most likely to play in more windy, less favorable conditions.

July 15, 2005 - NICKLAUS BOWS OUT IN STYLE - TIGER ON A TEAR! - Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer of all time, played his last round of major tournament or tour golf today at the Old Course at St. Andrews and went out in great style. Nicklaus birdied the 18th in front of thousands of fans to finish off a second round even par 72 to miss the cut by two shots. His reception along the route was simply incredible as thousands cheered him and especially as he reached the 18th. At the end, Mr. Nicklaus was heard to mutter, “when you shoot your best round of the year and miss the cut by two shots you deserve to miss the cut.”

As he played the round all the other competitors stopped to watch and cheer him on.
When he walked off of the first tee box, Chris Dimarco and Nick Price, finishing on 18 came across to shake his hand and congratulate him on this day and his career accomplishments. It was this way all the way around. This man is by far the greatest to ever play the game. Bobby Jones the spectacular amateur of the 1920’s and 1930’s and a Nicklaus idol is probably second best all time followed by the sensational Tiger Woods. Woods is chasing all of Jack’s honors and records and will probably catch and surpass The Bear in the future but until that happens, Nicklaus is still the best. Also, never overlook the importance of Arnold Palmer’s contribution to golf history and the record book. Ernie Els was quoted as saying of Jack, “he is the greatest champion of all time but he is even a better loser.” Nicklaus won 18 majors but finished second in majors 19 times. Tiger was heard to say, “ if it wasn’t for Jack, and Arnie, we wouldn’t have the luxurious lifestyle we enjoy today.”

Tiger continued to accelerate as he fashioned another sub 70 round. He came home with a five under 67 to go with his opening 66 to put him in charge at -11. It seems that Tiger is in total control and on track to win his 10th major. Scot, Colin Montgomery, who will surely become a local favorite over the weekend, managed a six under, 66, and is alone in second at minus seven. A gaggle of golfers are at minus six and tied for third including the likes of Vijay Singh, Jose Maria Olazabal, Scott Verplank, Brad Faxon, Trevor Immelman, Robert Allenby and Peter Lonard. Fred Couples is at minus five, as are Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson, John Daly is at minus four. Retief Goosen shot a one over 73 and stands at minus three. Englishman, Luke Donald, struggled in with a one over 73 and is three under. Donald had the pleasure of playing the first two rounds with The Golden Bear and five times Open winner, Tom Watson. Watson, by the way, made the cut today.

July 16, 2005 - TIGER OPENS THE DOOR - Tiger Woods, the second round leader by four shots at this 134th renewal of The British Open struggled a bit today but managed to beat par by one shot and hang on to the lead but only a two shot advantage over the advancing Jose Maria Olazabal. The Spaniard fired a four under 68 with his spectacular short game and cut Tiger’s margin by three shots. Retief Goosen, who is rapidly becoming one of the top two or three golfers in the world (he is currently ranked 5th), staged a charge of his own shooting a six under 66 to move into a tie for third with local favorite, Colin Montgomerie. They are at minus nine and three back. Tiger’s round today has made this a much more interesting finish tomorrow as he has let many in the field back in the pursuit of that Ol’ Claret Jug.

Monty, playing with Tiger in the last pairing, actually topped the number one player in the world by one shot with a two under 70 as he was nudged on by a thunderous throng of thousands pulling for their local hero. The day had a Ryder Cup feel to it with all the cheering and vociferous support for one man or the other. Montgomerie seemed relaxed and very much in control of himself. On several occasions he was seen with a most determined look as if chiseled on his face and at other moments flashing a broad smile. This just might be the Scot’s last real good opportunity to win a major title. With 18 holes remaining, playing a course he knows like the back of his hand, with thousands cheering him on, the golf gods might pull a few strings for this man who has been the best European golfer for many years now. The big prize of a major title has always eluded him. Monty did say afterwards that it would be very difficult to catch Tiger but if the wind blows and the course continues to play hard and fast anything is possible.

Sergio Garcia (69) and Brad Faxon (70) are at minus eight, four back. Still in the hunt are Vijay Singh (71) and US Open Champion, Michael Campbell (68) at minus seven. Campbell is proving that Pinehurst wasn’t a fluke. Americans John Daly (70) and Scott Verplank (72) are grouped with nine others tied at six under. There were a number of very good rounds played today and especially in the morning hours before the winds came up. In all 39 golfers or half the field broke par today.

July 17, 2005 - TIGER COASTS HOME FOR YET ANOTHER MAJOR - Not that it was easy, but no one could manage a serious threat to Tiger today at The Old Course and he coasted home with a two under, 70, to win by five shots and take back-to-back Opens at St. Andrews. He last won at this historic home of golf in 2000. Colin Montgomerie playing in front of Tiger and with passionate and loud support from the local masses got to two under on his own ball through the 12th hole and trailed Tiger at that point by two shots. Jose Maria Olazabal playing with Woods was also two back at that moment but then the turning point came. Tiger rolled in an eight foot birdie putt at 12, then Olazabal missed his putt and made bogey at 12, while almost simultaneously, Montgomerie made bogey at 13. Suddenly Tiger had a four shot lead. The weather was good and the winds didn’t play havoc so Tiger was never threatened from that point home. Sounds simple doesn’t it. He makes it seem that way with his talent and mental strength.

Tiger now has 10 majors; this triumph completing his second professional grand slam meaning that he has won each of the four majors twice in his career. He passed Ben Hogan and Gary Player in wins with nine majors each. Only Walter Hagen with 11 and Jack Nicklaus with 18 are ahead of Tiger in total professional majors won. When you count professional plus amateur majors he is now tied with Bobby Jones at 13, seven short of Nicklaus’ 20. This great golfer is moving steadily onward and upward toward the absolute pinnacle of his sport. There does not currently appear to be anyone in the game of golf who can challenge Tiger’s records so it looks like it will be he and Nicklaus at the top for years to come.

So it was Tiger (70) on top, Montgomerie (72) alone in second, Olazabal (74) in a tie with guess who, Freddy Couples, slipped in with a 68. Six were tied for fifth at seven under including Singh (72), Goosen (74) and US Open champ, Michael Campbell (72).

With Tiger headed at break neck speed, unimpeded, toward his place in history, I have only one wish. I’d like to see Tiger clean up his act. Cut out the foul language (the F words, the GD’s) heard so prominently on the tube around the world and show more courtesy toward competitors. Stand out of the way, don’t leave the green early after putting out and make doubly sure that your caddie doesn’t say too much, too loudly or at the wrong time. Go down in history, like Nicklaus, the proper way!



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