Enjoying the Open Experience

By Mercer BaggsJuly 18, 2004, 4:00 pm
Im not a movie man. At least when it involves going to a theater. Theyre noisy, disruptive and uncomfortable. Cell phones ring; people chatter; its devoid of decorum and manner.
Or maybe Im just old.
Id much rather sit at home with my fiance, in peace and quiet, and simply watch the movie unfold ' unfettered to enjoy.
Of all the elements that comprise the cinematic movie experience, nothing is more irksome than sitting in the vicinity of a restless soul ' one who must know the Who, Why, What and How five minutes into the flick; one who cannot enjoy the Experience.
The best movies dont give everything away early. They establish the characters, but present plenty of plotlines and possible scenarios. You wonder ' to yourself ' what will unfold, but, if youre willing, you can sit back and suspended disbelief for a few hours and just enjoy the Experience.
Golf, at times, is good theater. The British Open, more often than not, is good television. When you wake up, the final few groups are nearing the first tee. Its not like, say, the PGA Championship, where the most exciting action over the first two hours of coverage is watching the top players on the leaderboard exiting their rental cars and traversing the parking lot to the clubhouse.
The 133rd British Open had all the makings of a classic drama. It had the setting: the true links of Royal Troon, perfect for a black-and-white noir. It had the cast: four of the top six players in the world within four shots of one another, and a few intriguing, shadowy figures. It had the payoff: winner gets the Maltese Falcon of golf (the gold and jewel-encrusted one, not the one made of lead).
Wake up, tune in, and enjoy the Experience.
It started slowly, allowing us to wipe away the sleep from our eyes and ease into the championship.
Then, Bang! Crank the dimmer to the right and shed some serious light on this baby.
Thomas Levet pitch-in eagle; Tiger Woods hole-out bunker birdie; Barry Lane eagle putt. All within minutes of one another.
Thank you, boys, weve got some Major G, as a buddy of mine likes to say.
The plotline was thicker than a Scottish fog. The scenarios were multiplying like Gremlins, bouncing around like a candy-eating kid without Ritalin.
Phil Mickelson chips-in for eagle on 4. Ernie Els birdies 3 and 4. Todd Hamilton birdies 4 and 5. Tiger adds another birdie at 6.
Major G! (The G stands for Golf, if you're wondering.)
A great movie doesnt continually add new characters to the mix. That gets too convoluted. Instead it narrows down the cast to the principal few. That allows you to maintain a focus while further developing the featured players.
As this drama unfolded, some of the cast was cast aside. Retief Goosen played only a small role this Sunday, and his character surprisingly exited early. It was like watching an actor who makes $10 million a movie catch a bullet a half-hour in. Woods played one of those Alec Baldwin roles, where he added some interest and excitement. But he proved to be just a supporting figure who didnt really affect the outcome.
Levet hung around until a bogey at 15; Lane disappeared and no one noticed.
In the end ' to write the ending ' there were three.
Here was the thing, though: the three principals were two A-list actors and a guy with only one staring role on his resume ' save for a handful of B-movies.
Hollywood might write this script ' its a good one ' but Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington dont get upstaged.
This isnt Hollywood, however; its Major G! Where reality TV is real and the players write the script themselves.
And we get to sit back and enjoy the Experience. And what an experience it was.
Mickelson with his multitude of pars, his birdie at 16, his near-flawless round.
Hamilton with his birdie at 11, his chip-in birdie at 14, his birdie at 16, his hold-your-breath missed opportunity at 18.
Els with his what-are-you-kidding-me? par from the bushes at 11, his 50-foot birdie at 13, his must-make birdie at 16, his must-make birdie at 17, his hold-your-breath missed opportunity at 18.
Final hole of regulation, no idea how the story is going to end ' and it doesnt end. It keeps going.
More Major G!
Sometimes movies tend to extend themselves a tad too long. A great 2-hour movie is stretched, and yet reduced to a pretty good 2-and-a-half hour version.
That's what happened here.
If Els makes birdie on 18 in regulation: Instant Classic! If Hamilton makes par on 18 in regulation: Instant Classic!
Instead, Hamilton makes four pars in the playoff; Els makes three pars and a bogey.
Not the greatest script ever written, or the most appealing visual ever witnessed. But, overall, well worth watching. And a pretty good exeperience.
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 133rd Open Championship
  • British Open Photo Gallery

  • Full Coverage - 133rd Open Championship
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    Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

    John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.

    Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.

    Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.

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    Gustafson shares stuttering success video

    By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 8:31 pm

    Sophie Gustafson shared a breakthrough Sunday morning on YouTube.

    Gustafson, a five-time LPGA winner and 16-time Ladies European Tour winner, shared her news in a 4-minute and 15-second video.

    She did so without stuttering.

    And that’s the nature of her breakthrough, something she is sharing in hopes that it will help others who stutter.

    “I’m certainly not perfect, and the next time you see me, I am going to stutter, there is no question about that,” she says in the video. “But I am excited, because I am going in the right direction, and I believe I have found the solution that works for me.”

    For someone who has struggled with stuttering all of her life, Gustafson has touched so many with her ability to communicate. She has entertained her legion of Twitter followers with her sense of humor. She also has written articles.

    Back in 2011, Gustafson touched Golf Channel viewers when she opened up about her stuttering in an interview that was aired during the Solheim Cup. Her courage in sharing her challenges was recognized the following year, when the Golf Writers Association of American presented her its Ben Hogan Award, an honor bestowed to someone who has persevered through physical ailment. She also won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award that year.

    Gustafson, 44, left the game as a player three years ago to become Beth Allen’s full-time caddie on the Ladies European Tour. She explains in the YouTube video that she is making her breakthrough with the help of Steve Gill, a team member with Tony Robbins’ life and business strategy group.

    Gustafson said Gill led her to breathing, meditation and incantation exercises that have helped her since they began working together eight months ago.

    “If you know anyone who stutters, tell them to breathe in and then speak,” Gustafson said. “I tried it the other way for 44 years, and it's just not working.” 

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    J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member

    By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 4:09 pm

    Make way for Jin Young Ko.

    The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.

    Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.

    Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.

    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

    Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.

    Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.

    “I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.

    Ko finished at 14 under overall.

    It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.

    Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.

    Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

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    Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:25 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.

    The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).

    It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.

    Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.

    Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.

    ''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.

    ''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.

    Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

    ''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''

    Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

    Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.

    ''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''

    Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

    Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.

    The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.