Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Open Championship that gave us all such joy failed us at the last hole, the penultimate shot actually. Tom Watson played nearly every shot, certainly every full shot with a preternatural calm that was present even on the approach onto the 72nd green. He would make up his mind, swing the club sans any hystrionics modern fans have become accustomed to; there, just leaning the shaft of the club on his chest watching the shot to its conclusion, he was fully expecting and anticipating the result.
When it was all over Stewart Cink sheepishly seemed apologetic for having won and we'll likely look back at 2009 Turnberry and remember that Tom Watson let the Open run away just as his approach to the 72nd did rather than Cink in any way won it.
Worrisome to me was Watson putting the ball from the fringe like most old farts do, not even using a 5-wood or rescue. He got away with it on the 71st with a far more appropriate shot than the one he tried on the final hole. That is where he doomed the Open as I see it. He got away with a birdie on the 71st - a much longer shot with the putter than at the last and from a much better lie. Watson, the Jack the Giant-slayer back in his prime would never have considered the putter from that last lie, he was always a masterful chipper of the ball. I feel that the success on the 17th led to the choice on the 18th. The putt was worthy of a 25-handicapper and the play-off was even less worthy or interesting. He had a plan, but it clearly never included a playoff.
So it ended with a whimper; but for golf lovers, not the sports fans that Tiger has dragged over from the steroid-fueled world of ball and team sports and their ESPN SportsCenter World will have a wonderful set of memories with what properly ought to be considered an epilogue of disappointment.
It was a whimper, indeed.
From the USGA July, 2009 calendar ...