Posts Tagged ‘2008 Open’

The 2008 Open: No fairytale ending

July 20, 2008

The fairytale ending for the 2008 Open championship didn’t happen. Greg Norman, with an opportunity to be the oldest major winner in history at the age of 53 was unable to rise to the occasion. Norman ended in a tie for 3rd place which, all things considered, was remarkable, but in the end there were too many errant drives and some putts that looked as though they were going to find the bottom of the cup but found a way to stay out.

Regardless, I was surprised that a number of commentators picked Norman to win the Open even though he had the 54 hole lead going into Sunday’s final round.

Not that Norman isn’t incredibly fit and obviously still has the skills and the talent to post good scores. It’s just that there are reasons why there aren’t 50 year-olds dominating at the majors – or any other PGA tournament for that matter.

I personally think that the reason a player’s game slips as he gets older is not so much due to the loss of physical skills, but comes down to the wear and tear on the mental skills. It just gets more and more difficult for a golfer to maintain the level of concentration required to win over the four days of competition.

It would be tough enough under ideal conditions, but at Royal Birkdale they had just completed three days of play battling gale force winds, which is akin trying to compete at the highest level while trying to ignore some ignorant clod intent on trying to shove you off the course. That’s difficult enough for a 20 year old to contend with over four days and a decided disadvantage for a 50 year old. It boils down to the fact that as you get mentally tired you start to make unforced errors.

But in the end, Norman didn’t lose the Open. Padraig Harrington won the tournament coming on strong on the back nine and making a marvelous eagle on the 17th to put a cap on it.

One thing that Norman can take solace in is that only 6 golfers shot under par on Sunday, with Harrington posting a 69. The only other sub-par round in the top 10 was Ian Poulter who placed second. For the other 4 it was too little too late.

In the end, Norman would have needed to shoot a par 70 on Sunday to win and only 2 golfers were able to post that score. Which means that with 83 golfers competing on Sunday only 8 were able to shoot par or better.

Putting it all into perspective Greg Norman had one hell of an Open regardless of his age.


So much for the asterisk thing

July 19, 2008

Forget all of the pre-Open droning about how the winner of the tournament would have to live with the fact that his achievement would be somehow downgraded by the absence of Tiger Woods in the field. Instead, the golf has been compelling to watch and the eventual holder of the Claret Jug will be very proud that he stayed the course under brutal conditions. So far it has not been the matter of trying to beat the other golfers; it has been trying to beat the course and the conditions. Or at least hold your own.

The Thursday Rocco Mediate story went to the back burner, to be replaced by the Friday and Saturday Greg Norman story.

Here we have the 53 year old ex-superstar leading the event after 54 holes. This probably wouldn’t be the case if the winds were less than hurricane force and players could bomb their drives down the center of the fairways and lob wedges into the greens. Instead the drives get blown off course into the punitive rough and the putts are guess and by golly with the wind providing its own preferred direction.

Which can sometimes work to a golfer’s advantage with one of Norman’s birdie putts being destined to slide by the hole when a gust of wind sent it sharply right in the cup.

Norman’s 2 over par 72 was a great score under the punishing weather conditions which makes the par 70s shot by Simon Wakefield, Ben Curtis, Henrik Stenson and Davis Love phenomenal.

We can only wait and see what the course doles out on Sunday and whether Norman can hold it together for a 4th day.

In the meantime both Phil Mickleson and Colin Montgomery sucked it up to make the cut on Friday. John Daly crashed and burned with an 80 on Thursday to be followed by an 89 on Friday.

The most bizarre moment of the Open was at the pre-tournament interview with John Daly where he complained that Butch Harmon had ruined his life. I was surprised as I thought that John had accomplished that feat all on his own.

Regardless, the final round will be interesting especially if the high wind conditions continue. If Saturday is any guide the final outcome will be decided by who backs up the least rather than who shoots the lights out. But then it is golf and you never know.