by Jeff Skinner
It seems the fresh air off the west coast of Scotland has energized some of the more “seasoned” golfers at The Open Championship. Forty five year old Miguel Angel Jimenez has a one stroke lead over five time Open Champion, fifty nine year old Tom Watson. Watson is joined on the leader board by his fellow Champions Tour member, Mark O’Meara and a pair of forty-something’s in Mark Calcavecchia and Vijay Singh. The intricacies and demands of links golf has allowed the more experienced golfers to get the better of the Ailsa Course on opening day. Watson’s bogey free round of 65 was inspiring. Few golfers are as beloved in Scotland as Watson. He has a deep appreciation for links golf and respects the history of the game. The Scots recognize the character of this man and truly treat him as one of their own heroes. Watson said, “There’s something slightly spiritual about today. Just the serenity of it was pretty neat.” Watson possesses the most important element for winning a golf tournament. He thinks he can win. “I feel inspired playing here. A lot has to do with being in the presence here at Turnberry again, just the culmination of a lot of things that have gone on already. I feel that I am playing well enough to win the golf tournament. It doesn’t feel a whole lot out of the ordinary from thirty two years ago except that I don’t have the confidence in my putting as I had thirty two years ago. But, again, a few of them might go in.” Tom won’t be the only one trying to will those putts in the hole all week. Thousands of Scots will be right alongside their Tom, cheering him and praying to those Golf Gods that his putts fall and give him another chance at being their Champion Golfer.
Miguel Angel Jimenez recognized how special it is to have Watson on the top of the leader board. “He was a legend before, he was a legend today and he will be a legend tomorrow” Jimenez said in plain terms. “It’s nice to see Tom Watson there. It’s great to have a player with that charisma on top of the leader board.” It’s strange that Jimenez thinks Watson is the one with charisma, when many think that Jimenez is one of the most charismatic players in the world. Some even go so far as to call him the Coolest Guy in Golf. He was pleased with his round and said of the benign conditions, “It was a perfect day for golf and I played almost perfect golf.” Watch Miguel’s interview. Jimenez’s forty five foot, birdie putt on eighteen gave him the lead for the day. The forty second ranked player in the world is known as a true gentlemen on tour but also as one of the most interesting characters. He loves his fast cars, good food, great wine and fine cigars. He spoke afterward of how he would cherish a major trophy and how golf has given him everything. His two sons, both good golfers, and his wife are with him at Turnberry and as he smoked his post-round cigar he said he was looking forward to a little dinner with his family. “I was thinking that it would be nice to have a little whisky.” If Miguel can keep it in the fairway and drop a few more bombs on the greens he could be drinking his favorite wine out of the Claret Jug on Sunday. What a party that would be.