DAN REARDON: The Boys from Liverpool
(KMOX) – While all the lemmings in the golf and sports media are racing off this week to build the Rory McIlroy wing in the Golf Hall of Fame, let me take a moment to react and assess the past weekend.
I think it is great that the 25-year-old Irishman picked up his third major and third leg of the career slam at Hoylake and did it in such an impressive fashion. It is good for the game.
I also think it was noteworthy that there was a mild challenge from two personalities, Ricky Fowler and Sergio Garcia, who made for an entertaining leaderboard. But that is as far as I am willing to go.
This is the third time that McIlroy will have been anointed the next Tiger, and after the first two he proved to be more human than mythical. Let’s hope the third time really is the charm. His dominant play was the most impressive we have seen in a major since—four weeks earlier when Martin Kaymer drubbed the field at Pinehurst #2 and the lemmings all started building his HOF wing. Did you notice the German finished two back of Tiger at Royal Liverpool? Halt the construction.
After his round on Sunday, Woods offered his take on what Rory’s performance may mean. “When he gets it going, he gets it going. When it gets going bad, it gets going real bad. It’s one or the other. If you look at his results, he’s kind of that way. Very similar to what Phil does. He has his hot weeks and he has his weeks where he’s off. And that’s just the nature of how he plays the game.” Leave it to Tiger to take out both Phil and Rory in a single paragraph. That part of his game is still sharp.
History says that Sergio is more likely to light up the Ryder Cup in September than Valhalla and the PGA in three weeks. Fowler hits the ball farther, performs well in majors and dresses better on Sunday, but Ricky still is tied with Jordan Spieth in career wins with ‘one.’
While the ‘new Tiger’ was turning the European golf community to teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert, the old Tiger was saying everything is all right. Forget the fact that at 64 Tom Watson embarrassed Royal Liverpool by coming within shouting distance of shooting his age on a ‘major championship course.’ It’s nice to know that if you have played and practiced the game very little there are consequences (69-77-73-75), and for Tiger it is now 25 majors since he got to fourteen.
Lefty is happy after recovering from missed sainthood at Pinehurst. He didn’t successfully repeat his Open win from a year earlier, but he did manage to break par his last three days, closing with a 68. But what pleases Mickelson the most is he looks to have a chance to play his way onto the Ryder Cup team instead of hoping, like Tiger, to be a Captain’s choice. (I personally think Captain Watson should guarantee that Woods and Mickelson are on the team, not because of their ability to contribute, but because twenty years from now they will be the only players in the team picture anyone would have heard of.)
I honestly think the story of this major isn’t the winner, it is the scoring. What is supposed to set majors apart is the history and the challenge. This past weekend only had half. When a third of the field is under par the first two days and more than half are in red numbers on the weekend (46 at the finish) you might want to think about using a modified Stableford system for scoring to accommodate all the sub par scores.
Yes, I know the weather was atypical for the Open Championship, and the links courses rely on that to build the challenge, but if weather conditions at the Open continue to be as benign as we are seeing more often than not, the Open will be great for British tourism but disappointing for golf history.
At our Open only Kaymer in the top twenty leaders managed to break par on Sunday. At Hoylake virtually everyone in the same grouping put up red numbers. The R&A is hamstrung by century old layouts, largely landlocked from expansion and historically mandated to preserve their design. The steroid juiced ball gives the players an unfair advantage barring some bizarre greenskeeper dialing up a Carnoustie setup to preserve his course. McIlroy all but sealed his win on Sunday with a 357-yard drive at the par 5 16th. Dustin Johnson hit wedge into that same hole for his second shot. These players can’t “leap tall buildings in a single bound.” They are joyriding on technology.
And I have a solution.
The record book will show that McIlroy won at 17 under par. I would argue his real total was nine under at best. Last week in Liverpool the Fab four were the quartet of par 5’s at Hoylake. They should have piped in “Got to Get You into My Life” at holes 5, 10 16 and 18 to echo the thoughts of the players as they played them.
At the 5th there were five times as many under par scores as over par numbers (-175) for the week. At 10 the ratio was close to seven to one (-177) and only two bogeys total on Sunday. The aforementioned 16th was more respectable at just under three to one (-90), but Sunday saw nearly twice as many sub-par scores as pars. The closing 18th came in at less than three to one (-115) with more than twice as many red numbers as pars on Sunday.
This was really a par 70 layout at best and by just adjusting the scorecard the R&A would have given the Championship a sterner look without altering the outcome in the least.
Next year is St. Andrews and adjusting par would be like painting clothing on the figures in the Sistine Chapel, but whether it’s golf’s new Irish Crown Prince raising the Claret jug in 2015 or some other ‘next Tiger,’ to this writer the oldest championship in golf will be diminished if par at the Open has become “Yesterday.”
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)