Up until almost two years ago when I started playing golf myself, watching golf on TV for me was like watching paint dry. Now that I am a golfer and I understand the challenge I'm watching, I still find myself falling asleep with the Tivo remote in my hand. Now it's more like watching someone paint: sometimes it's a masterpiece and sometimes it's a white wall. The Open Championship had a bit of both for me.
Watching Tiger Woods play a nearly flawless round (or four) is pretty amazing. He made some exciting shots even though his game was really safe. The final round had plenty of drama and intensity, especially if you were rooting for Chris DiMarco like I was. Having Ernie Els in the mix was fun and made things interesting, too. And watching Tiger's emotional floodgates breaking down on the last hole was delicious. You could almost see his composure seeping out as he walked to the green and finished the hole. Then, when it finally broke, it was a dramatic demonstration of how impressive his focus really is. He wore that competitive golf robot persona for the entire tournament and wow, was it heavy. His emotional display brought tears to several people's eyes and almost had me as well. Good for him. Nice win.
Having said that, 18 under at a major? Seven players were double digits below par. What a dull course! I know it's probably like golf blasphemy to criticize such a historic golf course, but come on! Boring. And ugly. Have these guys ever heard of watering a course? The announcers kept talking about the lack of rain there. There's this thing called irrigation. Blech.
Photo from Golf Digest.
Tiger was smart to just play it safe and keep the ball in the fairway. Sure, he's more of a machine than other players and can make more of those longer approach shots, but it was a pretty easy course for most of those guys anyway. And if more of them played that safe strategy, the Royal would have been an even duller dullsville.
I often sit around and ponder... how can I be more like Michael Bamberger? But who doesn't, am I right? I said earlier it was a "nice win" for Tiger. Or was it?
In the Conditions section on the entry form for the Open, it states that caddies must wear the Open Championship bib during all practice rounds and the championship. It also states that players are responsible for the conduct of their caddies as well as their adherence to the conditions. Steve Williams removed his bib on the 18th hole before play was concluded. On the 18th hole! Of course Tiger and Steve had gaggles of cameras on them for the whole tournament, but the most visible spot and seen by more people than anything is the 18th green and the winner. People who don't watch or care to watch golf will see it in the newspapers and on TV without trying. And Steve wasn't in the correct attire.
Photo from Golfweb.com.
So, should that have been a two stroke penalty? Or a DQ? The Conditions also state that the championship committee can amend and interpret the conditions, so I guess it's up to them. Taking the win away from Tiger for such a technicality would be scandalous, for sure. But when it comes to golf, rules are usually rules.