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The WEEI Country Club
07.18.11
Reflections on the Open

By: Pro From Dover

That would be the British Open. Called the Open because it was the first and they’re British. Works for me.

It’s wonderful when the right person wins a big event. You will be hard pressed to find a knowledgeable golf fan who is not thrilled with Darren Clarke’s convincing victory.

We’ve had the good fortune of meeting and spending a few minutes with Clarke away from a tournament venue and he is a funny, charming, entertaining, welcoming soul. Having endured the heart wrenching death of his wife five years ago, he continues to soldier on choosing happiness over bitterness.

All you really need to know about Clarke is his wife died of breast cancer. When Phil Mickelson‘s wife was diagnosed two years ago, Darren was one of the first to call him and he spent hours on the phone helping him prepare for what may lay ahead.

We’d love to take credit for this line on Clarke but it goes to British writer John Hopkins, “Darren Clarke likes the inside of a Ferrari, the outside of a Cuban cigar and the bottom of a glass of Guinness.” Perfect.

Mark Twain said something about the weather in New England to the affect that if you don’t like it, you can wait a moment and it will change. Royal St. George was all of that. Dry, wet, sunny, cloudy, warm, cold, calm and windy all within hours. Each day something different. And each change offering a different golf course.

Clarke was quoted as saying he grew up playing the links courses of Ireland so he was comfortable each day irrespective of the conditions. His game is built for the unique challenges of links golf with hard, boring, low shots. His relaxed, even temperment allowed him to accept the bad breaks and lousy bounces that occur on these seaside courses.

The television coverage this year seemed better than the recent past. Especially fun were the aerial shots which clearly showed the layout, hard by the sea. It’s a beautiful, rugged part of the world.

And, of course, watching Tom Watson compete, make an ace and play all four days added to the beauty and romance of the event.

The British Open is our favorite and this year’s was especially satifying.

Is This The Post Tiger Era?

And the last six winners of majors are:

Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuisen, Martin Kaymer,  Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke. Especially interesting to note three from Northern Ireland and two from South Africa. Population size isn’t everything in developing champions.

Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson had their chances yesterday and spit the bit. Mickleson is especially interesting because he has the tendency to miss short putts when least expected. It’s hard to characterize that as choking but one wonders what’s going on in there. Are Americans now playing head games at the majors? This is the longest American player winless drought in the modern “majors” era since the Masters began almost 80 years ago.

Jack Nicklaus was quoted recently as saying it’s a new era in golf. He’s too much of a gentlemen to get drawn into the “Can Tiger Beat Your Majors Record?” debate but one suspects he may be secretly grinning a bit. He had said, quite some time ago, that if Tiger stayed healthy and his personal life was stable then he had a good shot at Jack’s record. Maybe not so, now.

Woods is a fabulous, rivetting talent but one wonders if his surgically repaired left knee will withstand the severe torque it is subjected to with his swing. Tiger always prided himself in preparation. He worked harder than almost anyone on the range and in the gym. With a bad left wheel and age, it will be hard to maintain that commitment. He also seems to be in the midst of another major swing change. He can’t seem to get comfortable with his mechanics and needs constant refinement. That gets tougher to do with age, as well.

He may well overcome the challenges and he certainly can use Rory and the rest as motivation but if his body isn’t willing how much can he do? A big “if.”