by Jeff Skinner
Each year watching The Open Championship is a joy and seeing it at St. Andrews is always fantastic but this week had numerous disappointments. It was hard to watch Rory McIlroy balloon to 80 in the second round after a record 63 in the first. Watching Tom Watson miss the cut was difficult but his farewell on the Swilcan Bridge eased the pain. All the big names that missed the cut was tough to take, Ernie, Paddy, Justin, Furyk all disappointed us. Some would say that John Daly’s pants were the biggest disappointment of the week but I found them at least a little interesting.
Phil came into this week declaring his love for St. Andrews and links golf even though his performance in past Open Championships had been miserable. With only one finish in the top ten over 17 Opens he was still sure he had figured it out. His titanic length and magical short game would now be combined with his refined distance control and trajectory.
His win at The Masters had put him fractions away from supplanting Tiger Woods as the number one golfer in the world. He was convinced this was a good track for him and was sure he would contend.
At the end of round one he was ten shots back and his bid for an Open Championship was done.
All aspects of his game let him down. Tee balls either missed the fairways or were on the wrong side, his short game looked average and his putting was abysmal. As is the case when Phil’s flat stick is off he missed short, makeable putts during every round. Phil made only 12 birdies and one eagle all week. Combine that with 9 bogeys and three doubles and you have a bit of mediocrity. Mediocre golf doesn’t win The Open.
Phil had squandered one of his best opportunities for an Open Championship. Much is made of Phil’s quest for a U.S. Open and with five second place finishes he has been excruciatingly close to winning one. Contrastingly, Phil has never been close to a Claret Jug. His chance at a career grand slam is fading fast. If he was to join Sarazen, Hogan, Player, Nicklaus and Woods this was his best chance to notch an Open Championship. More major wins are probably in Phil’s future but a victory at The Open Championship isn’t very likely.