The Open Championship just concluded within the past few hours and it was simply insane. I have so many thoughts on the tournament that I’m not even sure where to start. The thoughts that seem most notable to me…
Waking up on a Thursday morning and watching major championship golf at 6am is great. On both Thursday and Friday I watched the first hour of coverage before getting out of bed. I spent both of those mornings eating breakfast, drinking coffee, working during commercial breaks, and watching golf. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Dustin Johnson absolutely kills it for the first two days and then takes his usual major championship weekend trip to the dumpster. This year he couldn’t even make it to Sunday though. I was pulling for Spieth at Chambers Bay but it was pretty easy to feel bad for DJ after watching him lose the way he did. I bought into the idea that his birdie putt bounced on the 72nd hole and that it wasn’t really a “choke job”. After all he did hit two incredible shots to even have that eagle putt for the win. His club grounding penalty at Whistling Straights was somewhat justifiable given the fact that the gallery was standing in the hazard itself. It was heartbreaking but understandable. But this weekend’s collapse at St. Andrews? Inexcusable. DJ beat a total of one player in the third round and five in the final round after dominating the course for two full days. After that performance I don’t think we have any choice but to accept that DJ has some level of choke artist in him. It’s fitting that the final major of the year will be a return trip to Whistling Straights. I have to wonder how many times CBS will show the infamous DJ hazard that week.
The R&A, organizers of the Open Championship, made a few head scratching decisions. I still have no clue what the R&A was thinking when they put guys on the course for 30 minutes on Saturday morning. It was this windy. Louis Oosthuizen had a tap in putt roll about six feet from the hole. I didn’t see all of the scores recorded in that 30 minute timeframe but I’m sure they were not good. I believe Jason Day had two three putts during that time and he ends up missing the playoff by one stroke. That is brutal. The decision to put players on the course makes no sense largely because a 10.5 hour delay followed their removal. Another questionable decision revolved around Tom Watson’s final Swilcan Bridge crossing. Play continued late into Friday night so that Watson could complete his round and tournament. ESPN announcers discussed how it was nearly impossible to see the ball for at least the last 30 minutes of the round. One of the on course broadcasters actually said they couldn’t even see the player swing the club from 250 yards away. Players seemed confused that they hadn’t heard the stoppage horn yet and many of them were heard asking rules officials if they could mark and stop play. I understand that they wanted to get Watson over the bridge so that he didn’t have to come back on Saturday morning, but the way it went down seemed like it could have had a serious effect on the fairness of the event.
There was a pretty great story about Ben Martin’s wife and scheduling for this weekend. Ben’s sister-in-law was searching for a wedding date and called her sister Kelly to run some dates by her. Obviously Ben’s tour schedule requires a lot of travel and Kelly also attends most of the events with Ben. Kelly checked her schedule, saw “Open Week”, and told her sister that this past weekend looked clear. By the time Ben informed Kelly that the calendar was referring to the “British Open” the sister-in-law had already booked the wedding facilities. Ben ended up qualifying for the Open and was planning on flying back for the wedding if he had missed the cut. He ended up making the cut and missing the wedding. I’m guessing the sister-in-law was okay with that decision.
My final thought is simple. The play we saw all week was really amazing to watch. The leaderboard was absolutely full of the best names in golf. Almost everyone you expected to be in contention at some point this weekend was (let’s be honest, no one expected Tiger to compete did they?). Notable exceptions were Ricky Fowler and Phil Mickelson, although Phil did make a charge in the final round before hitting his tee shot onto a lucky Old Course Hotel guest’s balcony. Spieth was right there until the end and had a highlight reel birdie even in a loss. I don’t know if anyone else on tour could double bogey the 8th and then play the next eight holes three under par, including a 50 foot birdie putt on 16, to tie for the lead. The amateurs and young players at this tournament played unbelievably and every golf fan should be very excited about the future of professional golf. Watching an Open at St. Andrew’s is definitely a unique experience and one that I really appreciated this year. Congratulations to Zach Johnson on the much deserved victory. I have to think ZJ punched his ticket to the World Golf Hall of Fame today.
Jay Armour is a Chicago area small business owner who loves to play, watch and talk about golf. He follows the sport religiously and plays it poorly. He thinks fantasy golf is giving him ulcers and is an unapologetic Tiger Woods fan.