DESPITE MELTING in 38 degrees Justin Rose triumphed at the Fort Worth Invitational, then smiled gamely after being presented with a hot tartan jacket and a two-ton cake stand. His eight birdies in a 6-under par 64 gave him a 20-under par victory and a 9th U.S. PGA Tour title, matching Sir Nick Faldo’s record. His wife no doubt said as he staggered in with the trophy: ”If you think I’m polishing that thing ….”
When Justin won the Turkish Airlines Open the (mercifully smaller) trophy was flown in on a drone. Very trendy. Will we see the Captain of the esteemed R & A descending on a drone at the Open with the Claret Jug? Probably not.
PLACING THE JOHN DEERE CLASSIC, Illinois, on the PGA Tour schedule just before the Open caused some whingeing (sorry, criticism) from U.S. pro golfers. Illinois is six time zones behind the UK. In addition, Bob Harig, golf columnist commented: “ Our golfers feel they don’t get enough time to acclimatize themselves and practice on a type of course they are not able to play regularly.” Who’s stopping them?
The John Deere Classic now sponsors a charter flight that leaves on Sunday night and arrives in Britain the next morning, so the golfers can head straight for the nearest links. There, happy now?
BEN HOGAN’S 1953 victory at the home of this year’s Open, Carnoustie, was his only appearance at the Open. Always a perfectionist, he travelled to Scotland two weeks previously to acquaint himself both with Carnoustie and with the smaller golfball used in England. The victory was his fifth win in six starts that season, including three majors. He couldn’t have a shot at the PGA as in those days it clashed with the Open.
Australia’s Peter Thomson, five times Open champion who died this month aged 88, tied for second place behind Ben Hogan, before going on to win the next three consecutive Opens in 1954, 5 and 6 at Royal Birkdale (with a set of borrowed John Letters irons) St. Andrews and Hoylake. Thomson dominated on the British links between 1952 and 1959, never finishing lower than 1st or 2nd. Critics frequently suggested he was winning in an era when the world’s top players avoided the Open because there wasn’t enough prize money, but Thomson silenced them by winning the 1965 Open at Royal Birkdale, in competition with Nicklaus, Palmer and Player. A worthy member of the Hall of Fame.
Another lasting memory of Carnoustie: Jean Van de Velde’s eight on the 18th in 1999, with the famous image of him paddling in the Barrie Burn now written in Open folklore. Needing only a double bogey to win, he made a triple bogey and lost the playoff to Paul Lawrie.
Incidentally, Tommy Fleetwood waltzed around Carnoustie last October with nine birdies and nine pars, including a three on the 18th where the Frenchman came unstuck. Tommy must be worth an outside bet for the Open.
ALL FOUR MAJOR trophies currently belong to Americans, all aged under 30. U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka, Masters: Patrick Reed, PGA: Justin Thomas, Open: Jordan Spieth. Let’s hope a European wins the Open, or our cousins from over the pond may get delusions of grandeur before the Ryder Cup.
THAILAND’s ARIYA JUTANUGARN claimed ‘thinking happy thoughts’ helped her get back on top after her collapse at the U.S. Women’s Open. After losing a seven-shot lead on the back nine she prevailed on the fourth hole of a playoff against S. Korea’s H.J. Kim to win her 2nd major championship.
TODAY’S GOLFER says: “Poor reaction to bad play can turn one bad hole into three or four. Try using facts rather than opinions. Say to yourself: ‘I left the face open,’ or ‘I looked up.’ Instead of thinking: ‘I’m hopeless’ think of something definite (no, not I’m definitely hopeless!) A positive reaction will make you more confident that your next shot will be better.” Failing that, like Ms. Jutanugarn, think happy thoughts.
Until next time: Happy Golfing.
Contact Mick for regripping and repairs. 638 859 475.