Golf Channel analysts Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo offer their opinion on the eve of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Do you think the rough on the course is fair?
Frank Nobilo: No, the rough isn’t fair. The rough is punishing. Good rough, you would never say the word, ‘fair.’ It is thicker in places and even more penal. The last three or four inches are extremely lush. They still have the wispy stuff, but normally you would have firm ground underneath it. Now, it is like the American two-or-three inch Bermuda with long grass on top of it. A very punishing blend.
Brandel Chamblee: I love the idea of Mother Nature to a large extent determining the way a course plays. Professional golf today is becoming far too homogenized with fewer tournaments having a clear identity. Majors should be defined by brutality, and never acquiesce to the fact that so many of the 'best' players drive it wild. So yes, the rough is fair and necessary.
Is parity in golf here to stay or do you see any one player or a few players dominating in the coming years?
Frank Nobilo: Parity might be with us for a little while. Might be longer than what we realize. The next Tiger Woods is going to be Tiger Woods. That is a given. I don’t know if we will ever see a player like him again. Depending on how quick he comes back to that position or (how) long he lasts is how long parity will stay. If he doesn’t get back to his dominant best, yes, parity will stick around for a while. That does not mean golf is in an unhealthy situation. There are a lot of players that are working hard to get better.
Brandel Chamblee: Parity will be interrupted by a player who is not corruptible by the trends in the game, which speaks more to his mettle than his technique. I’m not sure there is much hope for someone from this current generation of players to do that, because so many of them are trying to copy what Tiger has done or is doing. Perhaps Rory (McIlroy) – he seems to beat to his own drum – which is the larger part of what makes someone stand out from the parities.
Does starting with a par 3 change a player’s strategic outlook to his round? If so, why?
Frank Nobilo: It doesn’t really. Players are just used to hitting a driver or 3-wood or a full swing with a club to a rather big target. It just gives you a much smaller target straight off the first tee. The hardest thing about the first hole here isn’t so much that it is a par 3 is that it is the most secluded part of the golf course. There is a wall of trees to the players’ right and left plus the grandstand behind the green. It is probably the calmest tee shot weather-wise that they will play all day. You don’t feel it. You warm up on the range and you feel all of the elements, and then when you stand on the first tee, it is very calm and it is not until the ball gets 60 to 70 yards off the tee that the ball gets affected by the wind. That is actually the hardest part about teeing off the first hole.
Brandel Chamblee: Starting with a par 3, as Tiger said in his press conference Tuesday, makes a player think of precision first and lets one know where a player’s nerves are as opposed to just swinging away on a tee shot without too much concern as to a number. It's a novelty that every few years players and fans all like.