Royal Lytham & St. Anne's provided unrivaled agony and ecstasy at the finish in 2012. I certainly held amazingly polar feelings simultaneously at the finish. as a long time Ernie Els fan, I was very happy that he won the event, win it he did. Statistically he played the best round of the day and he had put himself in a reasonable position to contend. Now a major winner in three decades, he is among elite, where he belongs; had it not been for balky confidence to go with his balky putter he would be the one with 15 majors now, not Woods. Els has left a lifetime of putts on-line left short in majors; one might argue that he has always been so self-effacing that he was too nice to be a killer but good enough to still be great. As a human being, he has done a great deal for humanity while having quite a career as a golfer. It is good to see him win another, this writer hopes it is not his last.
On the other hand it was difficult to see Adam Scott whittle away his lead, but he did let it go and at the wrong time. P r e s s u r e. It was indeed a collapse, but collapses can be as little as an inch or three once or four times, Tom Watson surely collapsed at Turnberry two years ago as did Van de Velde in 1999, a matter of degree, we golfers all know it. Coupling a slow & gentle collapse with a strong 32 final nine finish, Els was and is a worthy champion. He did enough and did it at the right time.
The simultaneous pairing of emotions was something only golf can do. ESPN was at its most shameless at Tiger hucksterism this Open. Trying to pull in the sport rather than the golf fan is their primary motivation and it shows to an embarrassing degree. Golf's default is that one never knows until the end who the champion will be as was illustrated again this year at The Open as it has the other two hostings I mentioned. Tiger Woods has been reminding us just how monumental his run was. Those students of the game will know the likelihood of return to that level is no more possible than Rory McIlroy becoming the next one. Golf's charm is partly in its cruelty, it is so much as is life charming, rewarding, heartbreaking and fickle - rare so all at once as this special Open. We'll be off next to Kiawah's Ocean Course for a very unusual and worthy US PGA - certainly golf's red-headed stepchild major. It will be the hardest major in years to handicap, but there is one sure bet - Tiger v. The Field. The field in a walk, guaranteed. Tiger has no chance.