British Open RecapEditor's Note: Be sure to follow @_DanDaly on Twitter this golf season for his off-the-cuff remarks and entertaining commentary!
Wedding Crashers is to this day one of my favorite movies of all-time…at least the first 90 minutes of it anyway. If it’s on TNT, TBS, HBO, etc I automatically stop what I’m doing, put the remote down and start watching; right up to the point where they leave the island and Owen Wilson starts reading Don’t Kill Myself books. Sure, there are some decent scenes after that but what makes that movie great is the first 90 minutes. If the last 30 minutes were anywhere near the first 90, it might be the greatest comedy movie of all-time. That’s how I felt watching the 2018 British Open.
For three and half days the 2018 British Open was on pace to possibly be the greatest British Open ever played. The course was fantastic, the leaderboard was even better, the weather couldn’t have played out any better and when the leaders got through the front nine Sunday afternoon it had all the makings of going down in history as possibly the greatest British Open of all-time. And then, just like Wedding Crashers it went from must-see TV to a snooze fest just as quickly. Was it still an incredible golf tournament, absolutely, but oh man, what could have been if the back nine Sunday had lived up to the drama that unfolded the first 63 holes.
With that said, here was the good, the bad and the ugly from the 2018 British Open…
Rickie Fowler near the lead
Once again Rickie Fowler went all Rickie Fowler in a Major. He played himself into contention Saturday by making birdie on two of the first four holes to get within one of the lead standing on the tee at the Par-5 fifth. From there he promptly pumped one OB, made triple and was never heard from again. I like Fowler, I really do, but the guy simply has one go-to move in major championships and that’s it. It’s kind of sad actually.
Zach Johnson’s caddie Damon Green
That stupid ass bird dance he does every time ZJ makes a birdie or an eagle is quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever seen on a golf course, ever, at any point. Quite frankly Zach Johnson allowing the bird dance might say more about ZJ than it does about Damon Green for doing it. Either way, they both suck in my book. Grow up.
Speaking of people that need to grow up. Wow. If this guy had half the maturity Jordan Spieth has he might not ever lose a golf tournament. After an opening round 69 he was the overnight betting favorite to win the British Open. He promptly threw three temper tantrums (that I know of and probably a few more) on Friday, shot a second round 78, and wasn’t even around for the weekend. Talent certainly isn’t this guy’s problem, but until he gets his act together it won’t matter.
The British Open "Frat House"
Unless you were living under a rock this week you are painfully aware of the fact that Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker and Kevin Kisner all shared a house at the British Open that the media nicknamed the British Open "Frat House." Nothing says “Frat house” quite like Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson hanging out in Carnoustie playing soccer in the back yard, recapping their golf rounds and going to bed at 9:00 p.m.
Jordan Spieth’s final round
As bad as Jordan Spieth’s haircut was this week (and the fact that it was even a story at all), it wasn’t nearly as bad as Spieth’s final round on Sunday. Sure the conditions were hard Sunday but he was in the final group tied for the lead and was an overwhelming favorite in Vegas to win going into Sunday for a reason. I know he has struggled the last few months but this is a guy that has shown when the lights are the brightest he tends to shine (12th hole at Augusta aside). His Sunday 76 to plummet from T-1 to T-9 was shocking and quite frankly concerning.
The last 30 minutes
With the leaderboard shaping up for possibly the most historic finish/playoff ever, Molinari (more on him later) completely sucked the air out of the last 30 minutes of the tournament with his play down the stretch. Nothing against Francesco, but man, can you imagine a Rose, Rory, Kisner, Molinari, Xander playoff? I’ll even throw in Tiger because there is zero chance he misses that putt on 18 if it’s to get into a playoff. Where was jean Van de Velde when we needed him?
Tiger’s double bogey on 11
Speaking of the air being sucked out of the place; Tiger was the solo leader at the British Open on Sunday afternoon with eight holes to play. Twitter was on fire, the crowds were electric and the Internet was on the verge of shutting down. With one bad swing, and an even dumber decision to follow it trying to hit the miracle flop shot all of the buzz he created the first 10 holes died a depressing and painful death.
Like Rickie Fowler’s leaderboard meltdowns I feel like I can just copy and paste Rory’s putting problems each and every major. Yes he made an absolute bomb for eagle on Sunday to vault him into a tie for the lead at the time, but it sure seemed like every other time they were showing Rory it was missed putt after missed putt. The fact that he finished in second place putting the way he did is pretty amazing actually. If Rory can ever figure out how to be even a decent putter he would win majors at a scary fast rate, problem is, I don’t think it will ever happen at this point.
The Saturday afternoon of the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines was the most memorable Saturday of golf I can remember in a very long time. The Saturday afternoon (or morning in the US) of the 2018 British Open might have passed it. That was as entertaining as professional golf gets, plain and simple. You had a major championship, on a historic course, with a stacked leaderboard of guys making unbelievable runs. From Rose posting a 64 out of gate to Tiger shooting a 65 to get back into the tournament, to Jordan making eagle on the opening hole in route to a 65 that vaulted him to the 54-hole lead, it was 8+ hours of golf at its absolute finest. It set up one of the most anticipated Sundays in a major I can ever recall, and if not for the ending Sunday could have been the greatest weekend of golf the sport has ever seen. That’s not hyperbole, it was that good.
The above was possible for one reason and one reason only. The R&A is everything the USGA isn’t. They understand how to run a Major Championship. They know that if you simply let the best players in the world play on one of the best golf courses in the world you don’t need to get in the way. The second you manipulate a golf course you ruin the tournament. The R&A let the weather and the course dictate the score and the winner and as a result they delivered a superior product as they do almost every year. I will always be biased towards the Masters as my favorite tournament of the year, but I’m not sure the British Open year in and year out isn’t the best tournament played every year. With very few exceptions (2010), the British Open has delivered on incredible tournaments for as long as I can remember.
How good is this kid! In roughly the last 12 months he has won The Greenbrier (2017), the Tour Championship (2017), the 2017 PGA Tour rookie of the year and now finished T-6 and T-2 in his last two majors to go along with a T-5 at last year’s US Open. He seems to have a level head on his shoulders and doesn’t seem too rattled by the pressure of being in contention at Majors. I’m a big fan of this kid and as long as he stays away from the “Frat House” and Jordan Spieth’s barber I think we are going to see a lot more of him contending in years to come.
Eddie fired a final round 67 to post five under and the club house lead early on Sunday morning. For a long time with the leaders struggling it looked like he was going to pull a Paul Lawrie and get himself in a playoff three hours early. But the part that is most impressive was his quote after the round. "I was a little hungover, I won't lie. I had too much to drink last night. And I was so frustrated yesterday, that today was really, I wouldn't say a write-off, but I didn't feel I was in the golf tournament. Whether I shot 69 or 73 today, it wouldn't have been heartbreaking. But as it happens, I shot 67. So, you know, it's a funny game." This guy is one of the funniest follows on Twitter and one of the most likable guys on the European Tour. Cheers to Eddie and let’s hope he finds himself in contention more often, guys like him make golf a lot more fun.
Simply put, the guy is the best player on the planet right now, and it’s not really close. In his last six worldwide starts he has gone 1st, 2nd, 25th, 1st, 2nd and 1st. Is that any good? While the final round he played on Sunday won’t be remembered in history like Stenson’s 63 or the like, make no mistake, his bogey free 69 on a day when everyone around him was over par was incredible. Throw in the fact that he was playing with Tiger in the final round of a major and it was even that much better. I know he isn’t 2000 Tiger but the circus that follows Tiger’s group is still just that, a circus. In fact, the guy played the last 37 holes of the British Open without a bogey. As mad as I am at Molinari for taking the wind out of the tournament at the end, the fact of the matter is that the guy flat out played better than everyone else and didn’t make a mistake. It was really impressive to watch actually.
With all due respect to Molinari and what he did this week, and specifically on Sunday, the biggest story of the 2018 British Open was Tiger Woods. The fact that he was the solo leader on Sunday at a Major Championship with 8 holes to play was the biggest thing to happen to golf in years. Love him or hate him, having Tiger in contention again at a major just makes golf that much better. His struggles to close out rounds are real and can’t be overlooked, but neither can the fact that glimpses of the old Tiger still exist as well. You also can’t overlook the fact that his own previous success may be clouding people’s realistic expectations (mine included). The guy came back from a 4th back surgery less than a year ago and is already contending in Majors. While he obviously didn’t win and may never again for that matter, the fact that he proved it’s a very real possibility going forward is truly amazing considering he could barely even walk 12 months ago. I still can’t believe he missed his birdie putt on 18 though that would have cashed a top-5. He did however finish T-6 Sunday which moved Tiger up to 50th in the World Rankings (on the number) which gets him into the WGC event at Bridgestone in two weeks. A place he has won a record eight times, and I’m betting he makes number nine in the final WGC-Bridgestone to be played at Firestone Country Club in Akron.
Look, I don’t know if Tiger will ever win another major, but after what we all saw at Carnoustie this week I know that he certainly can, and at this point, that’s a very good thing for golf and everyone involved.
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