July 23, 2004
Volume III, Issue 9
I say there, jolly good for us that Ernie missed that putt...
The bookies in Britain let out a huge sigh of relief — and probably reached for a nice, tall, warm beer — when Todd Hamilton won the British Open in a playoff over Ernie Els. The reason is simple. A lot of money was bet on Els, almost none on Hamilton. In fact, Ladbrokes and William Hill, two of the biggest legal booking agencies in Britain, said they had taken only a total of six bets on Todd Hamilton, who had odds of 200-1. They'll gladly pay out that money. Meanwhile, Ladbrokes had taken a single bet of 62,500 pounds (about $120,000) on Els to win. It was the largest single bet ever placed on a golf tournament, Ladbrokes said. Alas, there is a reason they are in business.
He won the British open, we'll still screw up...
Hamilton was aided by the new fad in golf, the utility club. And the small Sonartec company that makes the hybrid club he used around the greens and off the tees was inundated with phone calls the day after Hamilton hoisted the Claret Jug. Of course. It helped Hamilton. So it can help you, too? Yea, right. Hamilton made nice use of the club, which replaces a 1-iron in his bag. He was very adept at chipping with it around the greens, including the 30-yarder he rolled up close to the hole on the last of the playoff. Us? That ball would have rolled over the green.
Hey caddie, a baseball bat and Calamine lotion, please...
Els failed to win his fourth major, but he did hit one of the more remarkable shots of the British Open. After making a double bogey at the 10th hole during the final round, Els was on the verge of elimination when he hit his tee shot at the 11th into a gorse bush. Amazingly, the ball was visible, and to Els' thinking, playable. Most players would have taken a drop, then taken a hatchet to the bush in anger. Els made like a baseball player and put club to ball, somehow advancing it several yards. He then knocked his next shot on the green and made a par. "I don't think I've ever seen that happen," he said. "It was unbelievable." Yes it was. Oh, by the way, gorse bush, you look it up!
The Merry Meg has found her groove...
Meg Mallon is trying to make like Lee Trevino. In 1971, the Merry Mex pulled off a remarkable feat. He won three national Opens in a matter of weeks, capturing the U.S. Open, Canadian Open and British Open. Now Mallon is attempting to do the same thing on the LPGA Tour. Mallon won the U.S. Women's Open, then followed it up with a victory at the Canadian Women's Open. Next up: the Women's British Open at Sunningdale outside of London. "This is my 18th year on tour, and it has been such a rewarding career, but I've never had two weeks like this," Mallon said after her Canadian victory. It was the 17th victory of her career, and with four major championships, she has 21 of the 27 points needed to make the LPGA Hall of Fame.
Hey, just stay cool...
Save for a few of you — Northeasterners and Grunge Land Natives — the weather has been heating up outside. Not to mention that daylight savings time is now upon us, and we all know what that means. (Yeah dinner's cold, but you'd better compliment the cook anyway). As the mercury rises, there are always a few extra considerations that must be taken to accomplish a gratifying 18 holes.
I am aware that this is not your normal hot weather advice, but then again OTF is not your normal publication. Try to keep things cooler than normal when you're on the course this coming summer, and you may just shoot some better scores. If not, always remember it's not our fault you can't break 90!
- Shorts are stylish too: Lose your pro-posing image with those long black slacks. You're not and never will be the Black Knight so save on your dry cleaning bill and start wearing some shorts on the course. That is unless your legs are whiter than an Al Gore hip-hop party.
- Antiperspirant deodorants: Typical shower in a can stuff is just intended to keep you dry and non-repulsive under normal conditions. 103 degrees Fahrenheit from the middle of a fairway bunker to get home in two for the win is not normal. The antiperspirant will also help to keep you dry when it matters most so that no one sees you sweat! Not to mention that white Ashworth you decided on wearing won't be unwearable next week.
- Cooler at 5:00: To remind you, it is daylight savings time (in most places that is). The sun is at its hottest at 1-2:30. Why tee off right then? If you can't play in the morning, then just hold back your ambitions for another couple hours. You can tee off at 3:30-4:00 and still get 'em all in. It is much cooler at that time of day, and you won't be fighting too many crowds at that time. Speaking of cooler...
- Switch to light beer: Yeah, yeah you're a man's man, and you want everyone to know. Forget the testosterone-induced proof of manhood crapola for one second, and make an intelligent decision. If you can't do without the sauce for 18 then just select something that will be easier on your system. Besides, a black and tan from a can just can't taste the same!
PS: Drinking water has been rumored for many years to maintain a cooler body temperature. We wouldn't know anything about this, but it can't hurt to try!
A Funk-y Decision...
Fred Funk might not have thought much of his chances of winning the British Open. But you can't win if you don't play. And the fact that Funk decided to skip the world's oldest tournament to play in the B.C. Open was made more mind-boggling when Todd Hamilton won the British Open. Hamilton, 38, is a far less accomplished player than Funk. It took him eight tries to make it to the PGA Tour and he's a rookie this season. Nobody gave him a chance, and he won. Might Funk be scratching his head today, wondering?
Funk cited his wish to earn Ryder Cup points at the B.C. Open, where he felt his chances were better. Admittedly, he was comparitively playing against the second string team at the B. C. Open. Fred's tie for 40th place did nothing to enhance his position.
"I think it's wrong," said PGA Tour player Stewart Cink. "I don't think you should be able to do it. To me, you've got to put the majors ahead of the Ryder Cup." Funk finished sixth at last month's U.S. Open. He played on the U.S. Presidents Cup team last fall and so enjoyed the experience that he has made making the Ryder Cup team a priority. Funk, who is ranked 48th in the world, is ninth in the standings for making the Ryder Cup team..
"I like Fred Funk," Brad Faxon said. "And I've said this before and I've gotten in trouble. I've said that we shouldn't have a tournament opposite this. I still strongly believe that."
He's still #1...
How could it be? How could Tiger Woods still be the No. 1 golfer in the world? He is the most talented, but at the moment, not the best. According to the World Golf Ranking, which takes into account things that occurred as far back as two years ago, Woods is on top. Even had Ernie Els won the British Open, they would not have traded places — unless Woods had finished outside the top 17. He tied for ninth.
But the truth is, Woods has fewer victories this season than Todd Hamilton. Few would put Hamilton in Woods' class, but it is interesting. Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott. . . all have won more than Tiger. Making matters worse for Woods: he's finished behind Mickelson, Els and Retief Goosen at all three major championships.
Tiger has now gone nine straight majors without a win, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but a calamity for him. He did go 10 majors without a win between his 1997 Masters victory and his 1999 PGA Championship triumph. Lord help him if he doesn't come through next month at Whistling Straits.
Heck, his drop dead gorgeous fiancée Elin Nordegren makes my knees shake, perhaps she is having a similar effect on him.