The 2009 British Open is being held at Turnberry for the first time since 1994. 15 years ago, Nick Price took down the Claret Jug with a young Jesper Parnevik nipping at his heels. Turnberry presents the unique challenges that make the British Open a change of pace from other tournaments on the PGA tour schedule. It gives guys a taste of what many of the European players deal with on a weekly basis, and most of the players are happy to get back to the States when its over.
Weather seems to always be a huge focal point when the tour jumps across the ocean and this year should be no different. Tiger spoke in depth about the wind after his practice round on Tuesday, and talked about how this is a ball striker’s course. Looking at past champions, Nick Price, Tom Watson and Greg Norman you would think you may see a big name take the Jug, but there are so many solid strikers teeing off that it is pretty wide open.
So, without further ado,
My Four Horsemen
Tiger has become the British Open king in the last few years. He has won two of the last three Opens he has played in, and has the shotmaking ability and precision with his irons to keep his Trans-Atlantic dominance in full effect. Throw in the fact that he has already won three tournaments this year and has been driving the ball quite well, and it would be irresponsible not to pick him as a potential winner.
Martin Kaymer is hot right now. The young German has won the last two tournaments on the European tour and this may be the week that he makes his big splash on the world scene. 19th right now in the World Golf Rankings, Kaymer has got a shot if he keeps his strong play going.
I am always going to side with the European players when it comes to the British Open. Even though before Padraig Europeans haven’t had a huge amount of success at the Open Championship, they are just so much more adapted to the style of play necessary to tackle the courses and the weather in the big tourney. McIlroy is also an easy choice because he is extremely talented. He has finished in the mix in many tournaments on both sides of the pond this year, but has yet to really show the golf world what he is capable of. There is no better stage for the young Irishman to show his ability.
Boo has had some injury trouble so far this year, but I love the guy. He is the type of American player that the Brits really like. He is a cartoon American, a gun toting, southern accent twanging, camo wearing, American caricature, but he is also a great ball striker who hits it straight and can hit it low. Boo showed some signs of life at an easy course in Hartford a month ago, and hopefully he will put it together at Turnberry.
Who’s Really Hot Right Now?
Other than Martin Kaymer: Hunter Mahan. He finishes top ten every week now. Not really sure if he can contend on this course, but he has surprised me all year. If Hunter could put a whole week together, he might have a few wins this year. Very close to a US Open championship.
Old Guy that could Contend:
Greg Norman: Throw some money down on Greg. He won at this course once. So what it was 23 years ago. He was leading this event going into the last round last year. Greg makes enough money off of wine to not feel the pressure of winning anymore, and even more of a reason to favor the 54yr old Aussie, he doesn’t use MacGregor equipment anymore. He swings actual golf clubs now, but then again, Paddy’s won 2 in a row with Wilson.
2 More Longshots
Robert Rock and as always, Ryuji Imada. Rock lost in an epic playoff in the Irish Open that was a baby-British Open. Don’t expect a similar result, but I’d look like a genius if one came.
Best Potential Storyline
There are a few good finishes that could come out here. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods facing eachother down on the Isles would be pretty cool. Rory is everyone’s expected heir apparent, but hasn’t shown it yet. I’d expect expect him to shake in his footjoys in a showdown against his idol, but maybe we will find out on Sunday.
Sergio losing in 2007 is one of my favorite recent golf memories, but it was only after Padraig put two in the water on 18 to give him a shot to blow it. This brings in the potential for a 2009 meltdown. Who will be the victim? My guess: Lee Westwood? Paul Casey? Who knows? Expect a choke, though. If Ricky Barnes was playing I’d pick him. He wears the dumbest hats.
A Warning for the TV Audience
This weekend should be a commentator’s dream come true. Check out the Results from Turnberry’s last Open. One David Feherty finished fourth, Nick Faldo finished eighth, and if they decide to bring Peter Jacobsen along, he finished in a tie for twenty-fourth. Faldo’s actually playing this week, too. Johnny Miller was rehearsing for his lines in Tin Cup when the tournament took place.
So, on that note I will conclude. Having Tiger back in the Open Championship returns it to prominence in 2009. The course that was the site of the famous Duel in the Sun in 1977 should make for a great venue and no doubt, the British crowd will be as boisterous as ever. If you’re a night owl, you can really take it all in. Set down in the recliner at 1:30AM thursday morning and start pounding beers. They only tee off at the first so you got tee times for the next 9 hours. That means Calcavecchia and his athletic frame will be done with eighteen before you get up for work. So enjoy another good week of what has been a solid season for golf thus far.