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By Rex HoggardJuly 24, 2009, 4:00 pm
For those pining for an alternative ending, Stewart Cink is still the Open champion and Tom Watson remains a wildly popular also-ran. And last weeks championship is still an instant classic ' regardless of outcome. No amount of second-guessing or hand-wringing will ever change that.
 
Made Cut
 
  • Tom Watson-Stewart Cink: Would probably get run out of the buffet line in the Open Championships media center for putting these two under the same headline, but the week that was the 138th British Open would be incomplete without either player.
     
    One gave us four days of age-defiant golf and 98 percent of perhaps the greatest sports story ever told; the other, whether the collective will admit it, returned reason to Grand Slam golf.
     
    Or, as one colleague groused following Sundays fireworks: Stewart Cink drew a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
     
    Perhaps, but theres no denying the well-spoken Alabamians execution or effort. It may have been Watsons Open, but Cink, with three birdies over his five final windblown holes, won it.
     
  • Links golf: For 51 weeks links golf is as foreign a concept as new math or the metric system. But four glorious days in July bring out the best in the games best.
     
    Play last weeks Open Championship on, say, TPC Glasgow, and Woods makes the cut and likely closes on Grand Slam No. 15, Watson misses the cut and is relieved he only has one more year of eligibility and Lee Westwood bogeys the 16th to come up short at another major. . . . Well, you get the point.
     

     
    Made Cut ' Did not finish (MDF)
     
  • TW: That would be Tiger Woods, not 59-year-old Tom Watson, although were less concerned with that unsightly missed cut at Turnberry than his overall fortunes in the majors this season.
     
    Woods and Grand Slam pen pal Roger Federer arent trading text messages over victories at Bay Hill or Muirfield Village. The world No. 1 defines his career in the majors and the card is clear, hes 0-for-3 heading into Glorys Last Shot and in danger of a Grand Shutout for the first time since 2004 and just the third time in his career.
     
    Woods is still the prohibitive favorite at Hazeltine National, will be until he hangs up his Nikes, and a season without a major victory is hardly reason to be concerned following 10 months of rehab and on a rebuilt left knee. But he wont like it, and thats probably good for golf.
     
  • Neil Oxman: In its quest to find a culprit to hang Watsons historical near miss on, the media has scorched sometime caddie/sometime political consultant Oxman.
     
    During an interview with Cink on Tuesday, he said he knew Watsons approach at the 72nd hole was bound for the back fringe as soon as it landed, You have to land that shot about 6 yards short of the green and let it run up.
     
    So why would Oxman let his man hit an 8-iron into the decisive last?
     
    The final words of my life will be that I should have had Tom hit a 9-iron, Oxman joked during an interview on NPRs All Things Considered.
     

     
    Missed Cut
     
  • United Kingdom media: First a handful of Scottish writers reportedly sat on Sandy Lyles comments regarding Colin Montgomerie for five days and then the fourth estate took it to Cink for having the gall to win Watsons Open.
     
    On our way out of Scotland on Monday we ducked into a news agents shop and were greeted with a headline in one national publication: Stew Stinks. Never felt more ashamed of our chosen profession.
     
    As for Lyle, we were taken by the mans conviction to do whats right, not whats politically prudent. While Lyle probably should have avoided Montgomeries scrape with the Rules of Golf, when pressed about his comments during a hastily arranged press conference last Tuesday he had three options ' decline to comment any further, stand by his original comments or apologize for incorrectly calling Monty a cheat. And Lyle, an honest man, just couldnt do that.
     
  • Royal & Ancient: Although golfs governing body outside the United States and Mexico seems to avoid the type of questionable decisions that gets the U.S. Golf Association into trouble ' see lift, clean and place and Bethpage ' the R&A seemed to go pear shaped last week over its 60-year limit for former champions.
     
    Watson, the picture of class and dignity all week at Turnberry, deferred on the topic, but his play spoke loud enough for all involved. If Watsons magical run in Scotland, not to mention Greg Normans play last year at Royal Birkdale, isnt enough to make officials rethink the 60-year rule, what is? Old Tom Morris rising from the grave next year at St. Andrews to make a run at the Claret Jug?
     
  • England's Young Guns: For all the talk surrounding the nations up-and-coming corps, they still remain on the schnide when it counts.
     
    Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Ross Fisher posted respectable showings at Turnberry, but what of Justin Rose or Paul Casey?
     
    Last we checked, Sir Nick Faldo remains the last British major champion, and that just wont do.
     

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