Legends acting like legends


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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:
Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, 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.
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