Wrapping up two weeks in the United Kingdom


Emptying out the notebook from an 11-day excursion to Great Britain, including stops in Scotland, then England for the Open Championship.

• Visited Gleneagles, host of the 2014 Ryder Cup. The Centenary Course is hard, really hard. Either hit it straight or you’re hurtin’ for certain. I failed to hit it straight.

• The King’s Course at Gleneagles is a hidden gem. It hosted the Scottish Open from 1987-94 and Ian Woosnam and Jesper Parnevik won during that span. Nice walk, cool layout, neat track.

• Played Royal Troon with a host family member from our Open Championship stay in 2009 at Turnberry. Weather called for 60-degree temps and a 90-percent chance of rain. Almost bailed. Glad I didn’t. It was 75 and sunny.

• Had never been to Troon before. Loved it. The 128-yard, par-3 eighth postage stamp hole is proof that size doesn’t always matter in golf. It’s an absolute beast. I blew it in the right bunker on the hole then had difficulty finding the green on the second.

• The back left bunker on the postage stamp is named the Coffin Bunker. Thankfully there was no Coffin v. Coffin on this day. If there were, clearly Coffin would’ve won.

• Journalists are jaded, I get that. Told family and co-workers before I left that I wasn’t fired up to go to the Open Championship and that there better be a good payoff at the end of the week. Um … got that in spades.

• Feel badly for Adam Scott. He played beautifully for 68 holes and was in complete control. Then it all unraveled so quickly and in front of the world to see. He handled it all with class and dignity, which isn’t a surprise.

• Hope Scott wins a major at some point, but you just never know. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did, wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t.

• Loved seeing Ernie Els become the beneficiary of Scott’s collapse. No one has more major championship scar tissue than the Big Easy over the last 20 years.

Phil Mickelson is widely accepted as the second-best player of this generation behind Tiger Woods. But now that Els has a fourth major, a case can be made that his career is better than Mickelson’s. Els has 65 career professional victories (19 PGA Tour, 27 European Tour) and four majors, Mickelson has 48 career victories (40 PGA Tour, seven European Tour) and four majors. Each is missing two legs of the career Grand Slam. I contend Mickelson’s career is much more impressive, but Els’ second Open Championship puts him in the discussion.

• Last year, Mickelson made us believe he found the key to success at the British Open. This year proved that was an aberration. He’s lost on links.

• Two words: Tom Watson. The 62-year-old made birdie on the 18th hole Friday to make the cut, then was out early on the chipping green Saturday morning grinding during a heavy drizzle. So cool.

• Love our sport. Seven crusty golf writers were sitting at the hotel bar one night debating where Watson would’ve ranked as an all-time sports story if he had won three years ago at Turnberry. Some said No. 1, many said inside the top three, but one out-of-touch scribe said it wouldn’t be anywhere near the top 10. It’s a fun debate. Too bad Watson didn’t actually win.

• No doubt Woods beat himself up over the final-round 73; he knows 69 would’ve got him in a playoff with Els. Sixty-nine would’ve been a tough ask with the windy conditions Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes but it was totally doable.

• Best line I heard from the week came from Peter Alliss, while commentating on ESPN. “I get seasick on a wet lawn,” he said. Lovely.

• Fell for the “fresh pie” two years ago at the Open, but never again. Thought the kind woman said “fresh pie.” Turns out she said “fish pie.” Big difference.