Last week was chock full of surprises, and not just because Phil Mickelson – the 43-year-old arthritic golfer with a game better suited for Scottsdale than Scotland – left skid marks on Muirfield’s baked-out fairways as he hightailed it to the clubhouse with a stunning, final-round 66.
Before tackling your mailbag questions, here are this scribe’s biggest takeaways from a memorable Open:
• The third leg of the career grand slam now complete, Phil is one of the 10 greatest players of all time. Bagging two more majors would vault him near the top 5.
• Attendance was way down at Muirfield – the best course in the Open rota – which is more the product of higher ticket prices than the R&A’s weak excuse of “extremely warm weather.” Because, um, 70 and sunny every day was actually quite delightful.
• Best course we played during GolfChannel.com’s 11-day adventure? Turnberry and North Berwick are 1a and 1b in my book.
• I was sure Tiger was going to win the Open. Positive. Especially since he was in the top 15 in every significant statistical category (driving, iron play, putting) during the week. But staring at his best chance to win a major since ’09, his weekend 72-74 makes you wonder what’s going on between his ears.
• Somehow, I lost five pounds while in Scotland. Weight, not money. It’s either because of a revolutionary new diet that includes breakfast baps, fish & chips and beer, or because part of my liver has disintegrated.
• Rain pants in Scotland? Pssh. So unnecessary.
Best question weve had in this space in a while. Tiger turns 43 on Dec. 30, 2018. Right now, hes an old 37, after a professional life under the microscope, a damaging scandal and injuries to his knee, Achilles and elbow (and maybe even more). So its difficult to envision him still being uber-competitive deep into his 40s, especially with his brittle body. (Even arthritic Phil is reasonably fit for a 43-year-old.) The best guess here ' and thats all it is ' is that Tiger will win an event, some event, at 45.
No Canadian has won his national open in 59 years, and the best bets this year are Graham DeLaet and David Hearn. So, no, it seems unlikely.
Thats the column I wrote Saturday night of the Open. At the time the bogey on the par-5 17th seemed like a massive momentum shift, a turnover in the red zone right before halftime, an unforced error late in the third set. Tiger dropped from a share of the lead to two shots behind, and over the next 19 holes he never drew closer. Sure, there were more missed opportunities the rest of the way, but it all began in the middle of 17 fairway with that mis-hit 3-wood.
Indeed, it wasnt quite the bold finish he authored at Augusta. This mini-collapse was largely forgotten in the wake of Phils red-hot round, but Scott made four consecutive bogeys after taking the outright lead on the back nine Sunday. Though not quite Lytham, the finish was a bit head-scratching. That said, hes traditionally been a good closer, shooting a final-round score in the 60s in each of his last three PGA Tour victories. And, to me, hes still a top-3 pick for the PGA.
#AskLav why isn't anyone talking about how Faldo played?? Haha.— Noah Nettleton (@NoahNett) July 25, 2013
Because rounds of 79-78 from a 56-year-old who spends more time in a booth than a cart surprised no one. At least Rory is playing a (somewhat) full schedule!
What has affected your game most this year #AskLav— Alex (@Alex_Wise1) July 24, 2013
Probably the rapidly deteriorating quality of my golf swing.
New meaning to sleeper pick, perhaps?