July 20, 2008

The Open without you-know-who...perfect.

Well, it seems that Phil Mickelson’s mouth recovered from his US Open embarrassment before his game did. Yes, good old Phil did it again when he finished 11 shots off the lead in Scotland but had the gall to claim he’s happy where his game is now in preparation for "The Open" at Royal Birkdale.

I kinda suspected that some of the pretenders to the throne would begin to let their mouth’s shift into overdrive the moment Tiger Woods announced that he’d be out of action for the remainder of the year and Mickelson certainly has his hand on the oral gear shift.

To be honest, Mickelson does have an fondness for Birkdale because he made his Open debut there as an amateur back in 1991, but he didn’t win then either. All things considered, Boo Weekly and Anthony Kim have a better chance of winning than Mickelson and certainly have a lot less emotion baggage to carry along.

Boo is certainly a fan favourite, for reasons which completely elude me, and Kim has enough self-confidence to actually pull off a win if he gets into contention. He proved this by winning the Wachovia Championship and the AT&T Classic. Both Kim and Boo have game, but the question is if they can hold it together in a major when under fire from established names.

The fact that you-know-who will not be playing only makes things more interesting, but naturally, the media is making that more of a story than the players who ARE participating and that shows how shallow golf writers have become. They’ve been comparing Kim to a younger Tiger Woods, because I suspect that somewhere in their contract they HAVE to mention Tiger’s name somewhere in every golf-related story.

Golf Magazine even had the nerve to claim that winning this year’s Open will not mean as much because Tiger Woods won’t be there and suggested the winners name on the Claret Jug should be engraved in hollow letters with asterisk.

Cancel my subscription please because I just lost all respect for them.

In a recent interview, Mickelson refused to mention Woods by name and it drove the members of the media out of their minds. They peppered him with loaded questions hoping to generate a response with Woods in it because, for these clowns, nothing else matters except Woods. If he’s not there, then they have to find a way to stick him into the story.

Look, Tiger is a great player, but to be honest, if his knee forced him to retire I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.

Oh, I can hear the collective screams of "heresy!" from the Tiger fans and especially the pundits who rely on Woods for their bread and butter, but the fact is that Tiger isn’t the whole tour and there are a lot of great players out there too. He’s had a great career by any standard, took golf to a new level and is close to being a billionaire even if he never swings a club again.

The story should be that Royal Birkdale is a fantastic course and the wind is going to play a huge role in determining this year’s champion for sure. You’re gonna see a lot of players hitting drivers off the deck on par 5’s and even on some par 4’s if it really starts to howl out there. The R&A expects the wind to continue increasing velocity over the next few days and hinted they might move the tees to the front of the box, but forget about them moving it to a forward tee box because they’re just as merciless as the USGA in that regard.

One thing I have always appreciated about the way the R&A sets up The Open is that, for the most part, they let nature provide the harshness. The R&A simply makes sure the course is in excellent tournament condition, all the hazards properly marked etc…then sits back and lets mother nature provide the drama as opposed to the USGA whose motto is "suffering is good for the soul" and sets up the course to make "the best players in the world" scream and rip their hair out.

Now you know why John Daly keeps shaving his head.

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