Great drama and a gutsy winner.
Most of the week, the main focus was on Dustin Johnson, not Zach Johnson. The elements definitely came in to play this year as well, as they usually do with a course like St. Andrews. Zach played hard all the way until the end, and persevered through the tough conditions, which got the best of many of the field favorites. I also thought Zach gave a very classy winner’s speech.
Throughout the tournament, had a lot of fun doing on-course commentary for BBC – although some days were warmer than others (indoors), they were a pleasure all-around, and an amazingly professional organization.
Also on Friday, we got the chance to witness Tom Watson made his legendary walk up the 18th hole, and over the Swilcan Bridge. Although he didn’t birdie his last hole, the setting made it even more poignant. The crowds of fans, players, and friends that lined the 18th fairway during his walk was breathtaking. The darkness made it almost impossible for him to even finish, but officials made the exception, even though it was nearly 10pm.
Not only is he the most successful player of The Open of the last 40 years, but the culmination of watching Tom play and grow as a player since his first Claret Jug win in 1975 was truly special. Hopefully we will see him at the Masters next year as well.
The course gave up a lot of low scores when the weather was benign, but proved to play the usual difficult St. Andrews when the wind got up. Players were constantly drying their clubs and hiding under umbrellas on and off all week. It was a test of more than your golf game, it was a test of perseverance and mental toughness as well. All things considered, even par was a very low halfway cut.
Ben An and Raphael Jacquelin missed the cut by 2, and Alex Levy by 1. All were facing brutal conditions on the course, which shows that luck really does play a big role in one’s tee times. A few hours could mean the difference between freezing rain, to sunny, crisp skies in a place like Scotland.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello played steady through the tournament but suffered on the greens. Rafa has been playing very well lately, and is due for a win.
Also, we saw an amazing performance by the amateurs this year at The Open. Five amateurs made the cut, two 12th-place finishes and one 6th-place finish. Amateur Paul Dunne was also tied for the lead after round 3. The gap between top amateurs and professionals is getting closer!
My wife Kelly even put a few pounds on certain players at the local bookmakers, result? Hopeless! With St. Andrews playing the way it did this week, most of the favorites and odds went right out the window.
Here’s some tips I have for playing in the wind:
- Play within yourself. Windy conditions are not the time to take huge chances, the risks are much greater.
- Don’t Force it. Choke down on every club, and be confident in your swing to do the work for you. You should feel a 3/4 swing on every shot. Forget the par on the scorecard. A 380 yd par 4 can play like a par 5 into a strong headwind.
- Rely on your short game. Thats where the scoring opportunities lie in very windy conditions.
- Widen your putting stance.
- Don’t forget to enjoy the challenge. Windy conditions are a great time to work on your knockdown shots, play with trajectories, and dial in your approach shots while adjusting to head, tail, and crosswinds.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello played steady through the tournament but suffered on the greens. Rafa has been playing very well lately, and is due for a win. Also, we saw an amazing performance by the amateurs this year at The Open. Five amateurs made the cut, two 12th-place finishes and one 6th-place finish. Amateur Paul Dunne was also tied for the lead after round 3. The gap between top amateurs and professionals is getting closer!