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Reflections on The Open 2017

Wow, what an exciting last 5 holes of The Open. I’m a huge Spieth fan, but I also like Kucher. It provided a little bit of everything. With that said, here are my favorite Opens, and also, most crushing losses in the Opens.

My favorite Opens:

  1. 2017 Open: Spieth Wins, how, nobody in the golf world can explain how, except he has an incredible talent to dig deep into his competitive soul to somehow figure out a way to win. When he sliced his drive on #13, 21 minutes later, to end up with a bogey was incredible feat! And then to go 5-under par after that was unbelievable! I don’t know what “It is”, but what ever “It is”, Jordan Spieth has “IT”!
  2. 1977 Open, Watson and Nicklaus put on a show: Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus were tied on the final round. With an 8-shot cushion, the Champion would be one of the two. They traded birdies the entire day and came down to the 17th hole where Watson birdied, Nicklaus parred. Everything looked over, until the final hole where Watson had a short birdie putt, Nicklaus had a long 40-footer, and made it, causing Watson to have to make his, and he did! The two embraced afterwards as one of the greatest battles between two competitors the game has ever seen.
  3. 2013 Open, Lefty finally did it!: Phil Mickelson is one of the best players of all time, but everyone always said he would never win an Open Championship. At age 43, he showed them wrong with a strong performance that brought back thoughts of when he first arrived on tour. Plus, Phil Mick is one cool cat.
  4. 1995 Open, Grip it and Rip it: John Daly, playing at St. Andrews played a fantastic final 18-holes on Sunday. Everything looked he was going to win, until an obscure Italian, Constantino Rocco, after duffing his third shot, holed a 40-foot par putt to force a playoff. Daly dominated the playoff for his second career major championship.
  5. 1979 Open, Seve makes a birdie from the parking lot: Seve Ballesteros hit a flying hook off the tee-box with three holes to go into the parking lot. It was so far to the left that the golf course was not even marked as a boundary because the rules officials didn’t think it would come into play. Seve took a drop from the car that was close to his ball, hit a beautiful shot, and birdied the hole.

Most Crushing Losses:

  1. 1999 Open, the Jean Van de Velde Collapse: If you haven’t seen this, go to You Tube to watch what true agony of defeat truly is. Van de Velde had to make a 6, or double bogey to win the Championship. After narrowing escaping with a way ward driver, he still decided to go for birdie on his second shot. Unfortunately, it went into the high grass, then he hit it into the canal, thought about playing it, took a drop, dumped it in the sand trap, and made a 20-foot putt for a 7, or triple bogey to get into a playoff, where he eventually lost to a one-hit wonder, Paul Lawrie. The following year, he played the same hole with just a putter, and believe it or not, made a 5 which would have won the Championship. Van de Velde never was the same after the collapse.
  2. 2009 Open, Tom Watson at age 59 should have won: Watson who at age 59 would be the oldest champion in golf had to par the final 72nd hole. After a beautiful tee-shot, he hit an 8 iron, precisely in the middle of the green. Unfortunately, the ball released over the green where he had to chip, and eventually made a 5, one-over which made him have to be in a playoff to eventual winner, Stewart Cink. It was painful to watch the playoff, he never had a chance in it.
  3. 1970 Open, every putt counts!: Doug Sanders from Houston was an accomplished golfer but never had won a major championship. He had his chance to win the Open with a 3-foot putt on the 72nd hole. After backing away several times, and standing over it which looked like an eternity, he not only missed the putt, but not even hit the hole! He lost to Nicklaus the next day in a playoff, never to play the high caliber golf he once did.

I hope you enjoyed my favorite major of the season. Up in two weeks, the PGA Championship. Name me two Hall of Fame golfers that lacked winning the PGA Championship to complete their respective Grand Slam titles…………

 

Bert Walker
Head Golf Professional – Prairie Lakes Golf Course
bwalker@gptx.org | 972-237-4156

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