A British to remember

By Brian HewittJuly 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
The elephant in the room is the absence of Tiger Woods, the best player in the world, and, to a lesser extent, the absence of Kenny Perry, the hottest player in the world.
However, the shrills are wondering, will the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale survive?
The answer is simple: What has to happen to get the entire sporting worlds eyeballs on this event is something compelling.
Like weather gone crazy.
Or an eight-way playoff.
Or a good, old head-scratching contentious rules controversy.
Or a player throwing up on his shoes ' thats figurative golfspeak ' at the worst possible moment.
Or a player shooting a Sunday 59 to win by a shot.
One way or another, the 137th British Open needs something compelling to save itself from being remembered as the 'Asterisk Open Championship, i.e. the one that Tiger missed because he was recovering from knee surgery.
On the other hand, if, say, Oliver Wilson wins by three on a drama-less final day, this one will indeed be remembered as the Tigerless Open. Asterisks will appear out of nowhere.
Not to pick on Wilson. Hes an up and coming 20-something Englishman who has finished second four times on the European Tour this year. But very few people outside of the U.K. can tell you very much about him.

MORE ABSENCES AND ASTERISKS: Woods wasnt around for the weekend two years ago at U.S. Open at Winged Foot. He was still grieving over the passing of his father and he missed the cut.
That was also the U.S. Open at which Phil Mickelson made a hash of the 72nd hole and immediately labeled himself an idiot.
Geoff Ogilvy, meanwhile, made a difficult and pressure-filled par putt on the final hole to win the championship.
I havent heard anybody lately use the word asterisk whenever Ogilvys victory at Winged Foot comes up in conversation. To paraphrase author Gertrude Stein, a major is a major is a major.

LOCAL FAVORITE: A lot of the smart money is on Englands Lee Westwood, who has worked his way up to No. 19 in the world rankings and was one makeable putt shy of getting into the playoff at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in June.
Birkdale, Westwood said, is a good drivers golf course, and I consider myself a very good driver of the golf ball.
Westwoods answers at press conferences usually arent long. But if you pay attention, you will usually learn something from him.
He was quite outspoken about the 17th green which controversially has been redone since the Open Championship last visited Birkdale in 1998.
Westwood said he first saw the new green a few weeks ago.
Im assuming its not changed since then, he added. Nobody has dug it upI think eventually they will. I think everybody has accepted that something has gone wrong with it. Its just out of character with the rest of the golf course.Its not to the standard of the rest of the greens. The rest of them are brilliant.

GRAEMES EDGE: Many Irishman like to celebrate and they are proud if you know it. But Northern Irelands Graeme McDowell, who won at Loch Lomond Sunday, has held the full party mode in abeyance.
He said there were a few glasses of champagne Sunday night but he has a birthday coming up and he wants to wait until after this weeks British Open to pop more corks.
Hopefully punch in a good week this week and really have something to celebrate next week, he said.
McDowell was brought up in Portrush, Northern Ireland, which boasts Royal Portrush, one of the best links golf courses in the world. Links golf, he said, has always been a little bit in my blood.

MILWAUKEE TALK: Perry is now the oldest player in PGA TOUR history to win three times in the same season. In 1967, Julius Boros was 47 years, three months and eight days old when he won his third event that year. Perry was 47 years, 11 months and three days old when he captured the John Deere Classic for his third 2008 victory.
Meanwhile the last 10 winners of the U.S. Bank Championship, at which Perry is the pre-tournament favorite, have all shot four rounds in the 60s.
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    Getty Images

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