The Fool on the Hill
If theyre staging The Open Championship at Hoylake, also known as Royal Liverpool, this week..
And if the last time they brought the British Open to this venue was 1967.
And if the winner that year was Argentine strongman Roberto Di Vicenzo, who less than a year later would famously sign an incorrect scorecard that kept him from winning the 1968 Masters.
And if the flummoxed Di Vicenzo responded that day by saying, What a stupid I am..
And if Phil Mickelson, after melting down at the U.S. Open last month and handing the championship to the opportunistic Geoff Ogilvy, declared: I am such an idiot.
And if the Beatles made their bones at Liverpools Cavern Club across the Mersey River from Hoylake during Robertos salad days.
Then my question is this:
Who, exactly, is The Fool on the Hill?
We know Aussie John Senden earned his Ticket to Ride to Hoylake when he outsizzled everybody at the John Deere Classic last week. We know if Norways Henrik Bjornstad was in the field (hes not) and laid back off the tees to avoid Hoylakes dangerous bunkers (David Feherty calls them mine shafts), he probably be doing so with a Norwegian 3-Wood.
Actually, there may be a new stupid discovered Sunday or a new idiot self-proclaimed. But the fool on the hill, regardless of whether or not the eyes in his head see the world going round, will be hard to find because Royal Liverpool is almost dead flat. And, this year, quite firm.
So the key hole will not be No. 9No. 9No. 9 No. 9No. 9.
It will be either the treacherous third hole which used to be the first hole before the R & A reconfigured Hoylake for the pros. Or it will be the par 5 18th which used to be the 16th. The latter, for players long enough and bold enough to take the aggressive line, will leave them as little as an 8-iron second into the final green.
Tiger Woods will be helicoptering to the course daily from a nearby hotel. Which, I guess, makes him a Daytripper. And nobodys sure when The Open will return to the land of the Liverpudlians again. Maybe, for Woods, it will be when hes 64.
A Day in the Life of Tiger Woods is different from yours and mine.
Woods Carries That Weight of expectations that come with being the No. 1 ranked player in the world. World No. 2 Mickelson is just hoping his game comes together, right now, at an event that has allowed just one top 10 finish for him in 13 tries.
There are no Ringos or Georges in the field at Hoylake. But there are four Pauls and four Johns. Paul Casey and John Daly are the best of that lot, I fancy.
If Hooters Tour legend John Paul Hebert were teeing it up here, he would be a Starr for sure.
If Northern Irelands Darren Clarke takes the Claret Jug, the Paperback Writers will be working Eight Days A Week and there wont be a dry eye in the house. Clarkes wife, Heather is fighting bravely against cancer. A Clarke win would be a popular one.
Meanwhile, Back in the USSR, nobody from Russia qualified. But Vijay Singh was heard beseeching his driver to Please Please Me and start finding a few fairways. Otherwise, he knows, come Sunday he will be a real Nowhere Man.
Come Monday..well leave that one to Jimmy Buffett.
All the people in Spain are pulling for Sergio Garcia. But he wont win his first major until he stops putting like Rocky Raccoon. And if Colin Montgomerie snatches defeat from the jaws of another major victory, he will go down in U.K. infamy with sad, lonely and homely Eleanor Rigby.
To Montys critics, I say: Let it Be.
To Monty, I say, all ya gotta do is Act Naturally.
You say you want a revolution. The golf equipment companies have provided that. Its getting better all the time. And theres more to come. Wed all love to see the plans.
Dooby-doo-wah. Oh. Dooby doo-wah.
I think the winner will be a longshot, someone who comes in through the bathroom window, as it were. It will be a player we tried to find with a crystal ball when we should have been looking through a Glass Onion.
Meanwhile, The Taxman will get his share.
The weatherman is predicting Good Day Sunshine and the superintendent is Fixing A Hole. The course is tight which means you cant hit it Here There and Everywhere or you will need a lot of Help.
And For the Benefit of Mr. Kite. Or Mrs. Kite. Or any of the immediate family. Tom is not in the field.
Do You Want to Know a Secret? (Do you promise not to tell?)
The walrus was Craig.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.
The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.
"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."
Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.
It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.
Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.
Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.
He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.
Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.
The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.
''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''
Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.
''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.
Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.
“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”
Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.
Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.
Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.
Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.
“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”
Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.
“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.
This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.