I always love watching The Open and especially so this year with it being played at St. Andrews.
My son and I went to Scotland a number of year back on a whisky tour. We covered a lot of distilleries and tasted a lot of whisky and I even got in three golf games. Unfortunately none at St. Andrews. or any of the other courses in the town.
However we did spend a short bit of time in the town of St. Andrews – and always regretted not making it a longer stay – and walked at bit of the Old Course.
So it is rather cool to watch the TV coverage and see the shots around the Road Hole and recognize that we stood there, and watch Tom Watson make his (probably) last official walk over the Swilcan Bridge and know we walked across that bridge as well.
It has been an interesting Open so far (Saturday afternoon).
Many of the top ranked golfers who had been touted to contend in the tournament didn’t make the cut to play over the weekend. Ernie Els, and Justin Rose who have been playing well this year are gone. Tom Watson, last year’s Open story didn’t make the cut this year. Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard and Padraig Harrington have the weekend off plus a number of other noted and lesser lights.
Certainly the savage winds that they experienced on Friday had much to do with the departure of many of the entrants. The commentators tell us constantly that it’s not golf on the links courses unless you have wind, but Friday was ridiculous.
It’s interesting though that regardless of condition there is always someone who rises to the challenge, is oblivious to the degree of difficulty or is just plain lucky and shoots a score that leaves you wondering just what happened to all of the other competitors.
It reminds me of a discussion I was part of back in the years when I was a competitive shooter. I was down in Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the US Army Marksmanship Unit, where some of the best rifle shooters in the world - Lones Wigger, Jack Foster, Bill Krilling, Margaret Murdock and others – were holding forth on their competitive experiences and how you deal with bad conditions. The comment was made that seemingly every year at the US championships at Camp Perry they would have a difficult day with the wind and some young inexperienced shooter would put up a perfect target when everyone else was just struggling to survive. Invariably, when asked how they had managed to deal with the wind to shoot that score the answer would be a puzzled, “What wind”? Sometimes you can get too involved and sometimes you just need to get lucky.
Luck or whatever, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen came off the course at 12 under par on Friday with a 5 shot lead over Mark Calcavecchia. Talk about a dark horse, although he has 5 wins on the Sunshine Tour and got his 1st win on the European Tour this year. His success at Major championships since 2004 has been abysmal but he has put that history behind him so far with exceptional play.
However, if I had been betting on the outcome, I would have put money on Oosthuizen backing up to the field today. As it turned out, if I had, he would have cost me money, going 3 under par, again in windy conditions. However he ended up with his lead cut to 4 strokes, as Paul Casey made a good run at him, shooting a 67 and after 54 holes sitting at 11 under.
Can Oosthuizen maintain his game and hold up the Claret Jug at the end of the day tomorrow? I would wager that the pressure will finally get through to him and he will back away from the win. But even if he does slip on Sunday someone down the list is going to have to rise to the occasion and shoot a score in order to take over the lead.
Sunday it will be a matter of battling weather and nerves. Should be fun to watch.