Heard of Spieth?
Even dead folks like Gene Sarazen, he of the 1920’s, now have. Spieth, in winning the Masters and the US Open, is the youngest to win multiple majors since Sarazen, vaulting him ahead of Jack, Tiger, and Rory in that category.
Now THAT’s an incredible story.
So, despite Rickie shooting six under in the last six holes of the 2015 Players tournament, forcing a playoff with Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner, wherein he won, on the famed-island-green 17th hole – to win a tournament deemed as the 5th major, owing to its biggest buck purse – 1.8 million to the victor and its 50 top players often in play, and despite Rickie, in the 2014 official four majors finishing in the top five, putting him in a class with Tiger and the Golden Bear - Spieth just won on a links course, Chambers Bay, and has played St. Andrews before. He’s gotta be favored.
In the interview tent after his historic US Open win, he would not divulge his secrets to his jaw-dropping successes, but he answered all other questions thrown his way completely and thoughtfully, stating that he feels he’s proven he can play a British-style golf course (notwithstanding he’s ranked 80th in PGA driving accuracy!)
Jordan, therefore, will have the whole world watching his maybe-march to golf ultra immortality with The Open, in quest of the Claret Jug. But let’s consider the field, starting with our fallen Fowler.
Rickie can handle adversity. Remember how, even before the Players had started, he had to persevere and fight off a huge case of indigestion and heartburn, hearing how his also ran fellow tour voter-players, cast punch-to-the-gut ballots, voting him, along with Ian Poulter, as the most overrated players on the tour? He can get off the mat and bounce back from his US Open early round knockout...
2014 British Open winner and 2015 number one ranked player, Rory McIlroy and possibly Phil, the 2013 victor, can most definitely contend. And Rickie, unlike Jordan, knows St. Andrews competitively and won’t have all the pressure on him. In 2010 Rickie tied for 14th, finishing with a killer round of 67.
Rory knows it too. In 2010 - the guy who hit the ball very well at this 2015 US Open - tied for 3rd - so let’s not wreath the garland of ungodly golfing greatness around Texas’s Spieth quite yet. Moreover, in playing the John Deere Classic right before the Open, some feel this will take away from Jordan’s preparation and time-acclimatization for this year’s 3rd Major...
No matter who eventually wins, this tournament, dripping dreamily and dramatically of heralded history, will, this year, feature a memory in majesty with England’s Sir Nick Faldo and America’s Tom Watson, the latter, winner of this tournament on FIVE different courses, happily – and sadly – playing their last British Opens.
For these regal heroes, Faldo and Watson, and new boyos Fowler, Spieth, and McIlroy – they’ll all be newly thronged to a record breaking grandstand show, featuring nearly 10,000 fans who’ll wonder how these golfing greats land superb (and shoddy) shots at the 1st, 17th and 18th holes.
And in playing the course all competitors will fight each other, his own demons, and Scotland’s Mother Nature which could feature wind, rain, chill, cold, sun – FUN – over the four rounds!?
It’s a pickle. Traversing the dunes, while hoping to avoid pot-bunkers, reading double-breaking putts, or stroking long ways-a-way putts of nearly 100 yards on one of the seven double greens, while being transfixed by the North Sea and fixated by the over 600-year history surrounding this golf gambit – this “Holy Grail” - will test the mental and physical capabilities and capacities of the competitors like no other major. One must put aside the historical features and facts of this competition, if he, matter of factly, wants to win here and NOW.
Specifically, watch out for the infamous Road Hole 17th – quite possibly the toughest par 4 anywhere, where, for example, the 2010 Open had it administer 68 double bogeys and allow only 16 birdies. It’s not pretty to play and certainly not a pretty view from tee, having to drive the ball over an old railway shed. And whether the pros hit left or right - all will pray on their second shot, that it doesn’t land in the HELLISH, nasty, Road Hole Bunker in front of the green. Dreams die here, a terrific tournament can tank...
Speaking of tanking we must talk briefly of Tiger, whose game is in the metaphorical woods. It’s rough. He got blown away at Chambers Bay, didn’t do anything well, except slice his drives – and that awful feature is, as hackers and pros know, a death sentence. But for history buffs, they’ll tell you Tiger won here, by eight shots, when he was 24, in 2000. He didn’t hit into any of the 112 sand traps, not once! And he won again here in 2005. Oh, to be 24 again...His chances this year: say 1 in 24...and that’s being extremely charitable.
Ultimately, The Open, played in the Kingdom of Fife, between the Firth of Tay and the Firth of Forth, gives us this St. Andrews, the course where Spieth, McIlroy, Fowler, or even aging (now 45) Mickelson, will bring fourth, let’s hope their best shows of golf yet, for the fans to see - ever played - from tee to fairway to green - and to those pot bunkers in between.