It just wouldn’t be a major championship without a little insight and commentary from Wayniac Nation’s own, Mike Dunton. This week, our golf expert looks at THREE INTERESTING STORIES TO FOLLOW FROM THE BRITISH OPEN. As always, Dunton (@dartbus1521) gives us his prediction for the weekend as well. So grab some tea, maybe a Newcastle if you’re feeling nutty, and enjoy a weekend of golf from the British Isles. Ta!
Ah, the British Open (or as I prefer to call it, The Open Championship) is upon us. Being the oldest of all major championships, dating back to 1860, it holds a special place with me. I reminisce back to college days when I could roll in at four in the morning and watch golf live on the worldwide leader in sports (sorry to my editor for that plug) until I could sort of see straight again. The courses rotate every 9 years, and each year we learn about local customs, quaint British towns, and how much golfers fear the pot bunkers. Over the past 20 years I have witnessed coronations, catastrophes, and all things in between. Can one forget Jack’s final crossing of the Swilcan Bridge on the 18th at St.Andrews in 2005? How about Jean Van de Velde’s epic collapse at Carnoustie in 1999, a “Burn” he will never recover from? Remember poor Tom Watson’s chance at history in 2009 when he missed par on the final hole to become the oldest player ever to win an Open Championship? Let’s not forget two years ago when, on day four, Adam Scott went from eleven under atop the leader board to second place after shooting a horrid five over on that Sunday. The Open Championship has seen its fair share of epic moments in golf, and this week may be no different. There are three intriguing stories heading into Thursday’s opening round to follow in the wee hours of the morning here in the states.
The Champ is Here…
This is actually two different acts of one play. Act I is the heroic protagonist Phil Mickelson and his defense of his title. Phil had an amazing run in his final round last year at Muirfield to add the Claret Jug to his trophy collection. Now he is back at Royal Liverpool as the defending champ. I have to tell you that Phil makes me nervous this week. I don’t think he has any chance of winning this and that is exactly why he scares me. He may find a little of that magic, but I don’t think he has the putting stroke to rekindle that Lefty magic and win back-to-back Open Championships.
Act II: the US Open Champ with a chance to win back to back majors. Martin Kaymer scorched the field at Pinehurst, and the course for that matter, and comes to Royal Liverpool with a chance to win his second major. If Martin can pull off this task, he will join Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods as the only golfers to win the US Open and Open Championships in the same year. That is a Mount Rushmore of golf right there, so Martin will be joining some pretty elite company. Martin did miss the cut at the BMW since his unreal performance at the US Open that made Father’s Day more of a snoozefest than an exciting day of golf. Martin was the first golfer ever to win the Players Championship and US Open in the same year, so adding the Claret Jug to his summer would undoubtedly name him Player of the Year… and it’s only July. I see Martin as a contender this weekend and his recent 12th place finish at the French Open has him tracking in the right direction. Germany is riding high off their victory in Brazil. Why not add to their year of sports domination with another cup, or Jug in this case, in England?
Will we hear that familiar “roar”?
The talk going into this week is all about Mr. Woods. Where is Tiger’s game? We could analyze the heck out of him, poke him, prod him, swing at him, but none of that would matter. The simple fact is that only Tiger knows where his game is. Will he win this week? I made the mistake of going out on a limb at Congressional saying he would and he completely missed the cut. I am not going to be that bold this week. A good showing for Tiger? Well again, that is up to him. He may be happy with making the cut and competing. On the other hand, with Tiger’s competitive spirit, it could upset him merely being “in the hunt.” We just don’t know where he is right now with his game. What we do know is that drive to win is there, and that may be just enough to push him into Sunday. I don’t want to ask too much of Tiger right now, but I will go out on this limb. Tiger will finish higher than Phil. There you go, a prediction that you can hold me to the fire with. As you know by now, I would love nothing more to see him finish way higher than Phil by holding up the Claret Jug on Sunday.
I enjoy Open golf. It is a test of wills that the tour’s best encounter a different brand of golf. Bunkers swallow up balls that appear to land in the middle of fairways. Greens are so big that putting on them is like playing a par 3. Let us sit back and watch what plays out this weekend. Just make sure you have a large cup of coffee and have the alarm set for the butt crack of dawn so you can see it all.
And the winner is…
So here is my prediction for a winner of the Open Championship. Golf needs this weekend to have some of the drama the US Open lacked. We need a storyline to follow that captivates the non golf fan. Something that generates an audience early Sunday morning that tuned in ready to watch history. My winner is the guy in the Nike shirt, but not the all too familiar red one on Sunday. I’m going with Rory McIlroy in a close finish over Martin Kaymer.