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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