Winners and losers from a wild week at the British Open
This is an article from the July 29, 2002 issue
Ernie Els hoisted the claret jug and David Toms finished DFL with
an 81-75 weekend, but there were plenty of other newsmakers last
week at the 131st British Open.
JEAN VAN DE VELDE He's no longer the sole poster boy for nutty
Frenchmen. Thomas Levet showed a lot of heart on Sunday but
little brains, twice pulling his driver on the 18th hole on his
way to bogeys while stirring memories of Wrong Way Jean.
GARY EVANS'S MUM The endearing Englishman stole the show on
Sunday, playing the most inspired golf among the contenders, but
his shout-out to Mom on the 17th green was the most memorable
BOBBY JONES Turns out the Grand Slam isn't a gimme. Jones's
greatest legacy survives intact, at least for another year.
MUIRFIELD The timeless links played at a mere 7,034 yards, but it
proved a stern test. Note to aspiring course architects:
Well-placed bunkers and penal rough are more effective deterrents
to scoring than mindlessly adding yardage. (Of course, 30-mph
gusts are also helpful.)
SERGIO GARCIA He didn't mount a big final-round charge, shooting
a ho-hum 69 to tie for eighth, but conquering his waggles was a
victory in itself.
ROCCO MEDIATE It may have taken a public scolding by Arnold
Palmer and a free ride on Phil Mickelson's plane, but Mediate
made the right call by playing in the Open, despite finishing
47th. This veteran is too talented to even think about skipping
golf's biggest tournament.
BBC VIEWERS Van de Velde may not be able to crack an egg anymore,
but he was a delight as a guest commentator. ABC's resident
Virginian, Curtis Strange, should take lessons on how to
THE DUFFY With apologies to Els's 29 to start the second round,
the most outrageous nine holes of the tournament was Duffy
Waldorf's back nine 32 during Saturday's tempest, which followed
a 45 on the front. Beneath that dumpy physique and those tacky
clothes is a surprisingly hard-nosed competitor.
TIGER WOODS For the first time in his career he was overwhelmed
by the moment. Bonus points, though, for conducting himself like
a champ despite a shocking 81.
AMERICANS Only one Yank placed in the top 13--Scott Hoch, 46, who
bogeyed the 72nd hole when a birdie would have secured him a spot
in the playoff.
AUSSIES Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington both bogeyed the last
playoff hole to fall by the wayside, shades of Greg Norman in
1989. PGA Championship No Slam, no buzz.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE After tying the course record with a
second-round 64--on home soil, no less--Monty had a sporty 84-75
weekend to finish second from last. Then he loosed a truly nutty
diatribe, blaming the press for his woes. We'd say he's finished,
but you already knew that.
PHIL MICKELSON Riding a recent tear in the majors, Mickelson
opened with a 68 but then faded badly, finishing 66th and running
his record in Grand Slam events to 0 for 41. Meanwhile, another
talented 32-year-old, Ernie Els, won his third major.
ERNIE ELS is going to achieve his stated goal of winning the
career Grand Slam. Despite what Jack Nicklaus and other
old-timers think, Els has as much heart as game, and his stout
victory at Muirfield should finally convince Big Easy that he
can thrive even in the age of Tiger.
Tiger Woods made his annual pilgrimage to Ireland the week before
the British Open, along with David Duval, Scott McCarron and Mark
O'Meara. The heavyweight foursome holed up at the K Club, outside
Dublin, and journeyed to Portmarnock, Mount Juliet and the
European Club in a helicopter that was parked conspicuously on
the hotel's back lawn. However, the trip wasn't just about golf.
Had you strolled past room 679 on the afternoon of July 12, the
open front door would have revealed a shirtless Duval sharing a
game of cribbage with a friend, as well as a bottle of Wild
Turkey. Later that day a solitary figure was spotted casting a
line on one of the lakes that dots the K Club's front nine. Woods
got a couple of bites.
Mike Weir was also on hand at the K Club, enjoying his own golf
adventure with his caddie, Brennan Little, and two other
friends. No choppers for this group, though. "We're making do
with a car and driver," Weir said.
With apologies to the residents of Greywalls, the best
accommodations of Open week belonged to Rocco Mediate, Phil
Mickelson and Chris Riley, who rented Luffness Castle, outside
Gullane, which dates to the 10th century. Riley, a last-minute
arrival thanks to his tie for fifth at the Western Open, spent
most of the week poking around the castle's library, which was
stocked with books published in the 17th century.
From the Love of the Game Dept.: Following the third round of
the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond two weeks ago, Brad Faxon
sneaked in a round at Western Gailes Golf Club, a cult classic
in Ayrshire. Faxon pulled his own bag on a trolley. "It was just
for the experience," he says.
LPGA rookie Catherine Cartwright made her first cut of the
season, finishing 77th at the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic, and
promptly gave away her $1,800 check. Cartwright had long ago
pledged to donate her first paycheck to the Special Operations
Warrior Foundation, which aids children of servicemen who have
been killed in the line of duty. She is also donating $25 to the
fund for every birdie she makes this season.
Another LPGA rookie, Natalie Gulbis, is only 31st on the money
list but is already considered an indispensable box office draw
by Ty Votaw. The commish denied Gulbis a release for next week's
Norwegian Masters, which was offering an appearance fee as well
as covering travel expenses for Gulbis and her parents. If
Gulbis wants to compete next week, she'll have to tee it up at
the Wendy's Championship in Dublin, Ohio.
VOTE AT GOLFONLINE.COM
THIS WEEK: Will Tiger Woods use his loss at the British Open as
motivation to win the PGA, or will he be out of gas in the year's
LAST WEEK: Would you rather see Woods win the Grand Slam or Phil
Mickelson win his first major?
Woods Slam....53% Mickelson major....47%
--Based on 57,753 responses to our informal survey