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Rich Lerner is at Royal Birkdale this week for the 137th Open Championship. Enjoy Rich's insight and perspective from the season's third major:
SOUTHPORT, England ' I ran into Peter Dawson, secretary of the Royal and Ancient, near the clubhouse in the afternoon just before tea ' and it was a good day for hot tea and warm spirits. I wondered what he thought of mild player rumblings that the course was too tough with tees back on a day when all but four holes played into the stiff wind. He said politely, The set-ups perfectly fair. Its just a tough day by the sea.
Wouldnt it be sweet if Rocco won? Bet Tiger would enjoy it.
Greg Norman told me yesterday that Birkdales the best set-up hes ever seen at any Open. He played like a man who likes it. And I know its not happening, that its a pipe dream, but if it did, if he becomes the oldest ever to win a major, wouldnt that change the career conversation once and for all?
Speaking of Open legends, Tom Watson recounted his early struggles with links golf: The very first tee shot I ever hit I hit right down the middle of the fairway where the caddie told me to hit it and we couldnt find the ball. It had kicked off a mound into a pot bunker. I said, I dont like this. This is not golf. And it took about four years to get over that first tee ball. I was fighting it mentally and didnt like the luck of the bounce. I finally told myself, You know youre complaining too much, stop that and play the golf course the way you find it. Play it along the ground. If the wind is going to move the ball 30 yards in the air, dont fight it. When I started letting the wind be my friend I was a much better golfer.
Phil Mickelsons in a major championship rut again. True, hes won this year at classic venues Riviera and Colonial, and that would be more than enough for nearly every other player on TOUR. But if Phil ends another season without a major, hell be the first to tell you that 2008 will not have been what hed hoped for.
Phils not the only late-30s, future Hall of Fame lock in a bad way. Ernie Els is hurting, and not physically. Keep in mind, though, that horizontal rains and 35-mile-per-hour gusts can make even future Hall of Fame members look pitiful. Tiger, you may recall, shot 81 on a wicked Saturday at Muirfield six years ago, his single season slam hopes blown away.
Thinking this morning in the middle of the maelstrom that Tiger, pun intended, gets all the breaks. Elins probably serving him breakfast poolside in sunny Florida while everyone else is beating their brains out in the frigid slop of Birkdale.
Love the fact that Harrington loved being out in the crappy conditions. Thats the attitude Watson said you must have to win The Open. And Watson knows; he won five.
If its cold and windy and rainy, I always like a Canadian in a beanie. I like Mike Weir.
Ran into a sturdy, pasty Englishman who cracked, I actually have a tan. Its rust, though, not sunburn.
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.