by Aaron "1-iron" Garry - 07/11/2005
"1-iron" gave you Top 5s from our number four and five picks this week (Lewis/Hensby), but it was our No. 4 pick who led this tournament on Friday and Saturday that provided that "special letdown" this week. I can almost hear J.L. Lewis' wife Dawn, as he walked into the kitchen on Sunday night - "J.L.... J.L....J.L..... how could you possibly throw this tournament away?"
Those same sentiments were echoed at the "1-iron Estate" on Sunday afternoon, after watching our number five pick Lewis scurry away a 3-shot lead, that was capped off by embarrassing bogeys at the Par 5 17th, and Par 4 18th. The bogey at 17 was Lewis' second bogey of the day on the easy Par 5's that the TPC of Deere Run offered up this weekend. Lewis' demise opened the door for young Sean O'Hair to grab the John Deere Classic victory, $720,000, and a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. O'hair's total of 16 under par showcased the solid golf that this young man is capable of playing. Finishing this tournament third in driving distance and second in Greens in Regulation is a formula for success for any tour professional. He's going to win many more of these things.
Among the other storylines at the John Deere, we had Michelle Wie making an improbable run to stay the weekend, only to be unseated on her 15th and 16th holes with a double bogey and bogey, respectively. "1-iron" is starting to think this girl turns to moosh when things get tight. The unfortunate part is that she waits until the bitter end to fold her cards. The 82 at Cherry Hills in the Women's Open, and the breakdown at the John Deere cannot be good for this phenom's confidence. At some point, she's got to break through and finish what she started. She should've taken Birdie Kim apart at Cherry Hills, and she never should've stopped making birdies when she had the cut firmly in her sights. She'll get there eventually, but it would've been the penultimate if it would've been this past weekend.
We gather this week for the British Open at the Old Course in St. Andrew's for golf's third major championship of 2005. With a nip of single malt and a view of St. Andrew's Bay, the game will fondly pay homage to Jack Nicklaus and his golfing accomplishments across the pond, as he ends his run of 163 majors. Nicklaus, who turns 65 this year will be ineligible to compete in future Open Championships, and thus will garner the fanfare and adoration of the Scottish golf fans one last time. Nicklaus won three British Opens in his career, and two of the wins came at St. Andrews. While his three Claret Jugs are far less then his six Green Jackets, five Wanamaker trophies, and four US Open wins, the British Open was where Jack's legacy was conceived. Starting in 1963, he finished in the top six in 17 of the next 18 British Opens, while winning three times, and finish second seven times. Those are astounding numbers from the greatest player ever.
But who is going to take home the Claret Jug this week? With the typical wind and rain in the forecast, "1-iron" envisions a winner who has successfully battled the elements in years past, with patience and creativity to create scoring opportunities around the re-modeled Old Course. With 164 new yards, the course will play at almost 7,300 yards for the world's best, showing that even St. Andrews must bring itself up to modern tour standards. Thus, length will again be at a premium this week as it was in 2000 and 1995 when Tiger Woods and John Daly, respectively, were able to capture the Open Championship. "1-iron" does not see repeats of 2003 (Ben Curtis) and 2004 (Todd Hamilton), where unknowns clawed their way to the Jug. This week it will be a star studded fight to the finish, with Tiger Woods showing class and dominance as he defeats the world's best.
18 Shots for the British Open
6 Who Will:1. Tiger Woods (11/5): His 269 (-19) at the 2000 Open at St. Andrews was a cakewalk. Grab the buttercream icing, because we are going to see a repeat performance this year. He's hitting it so far past any trouble, that as long as he doesn't find any dangerous pot bunkers, he will be able to completely overpower the course to obtain major number 10. Finished T9 last year at Troon, and T4 in 2003 at Royal St. George's.
2. Ernie Els (15/2): The 2002 Champion at Muirfield never disappoints at this tournament. A slew of Top 10s (8) and the aforementioned patience and length will make him a contender every year. It would normally be a ferocious decision to decide between him and Tiger, but with Ernie's poor play this year (47th at Augusta, 15th at Pinehurst), Tiger's the easy choice.
3. David Toms (33/1): I have no clue why Toms decided to play at the John Deere instead of heading to St. Andrews for practice on the links layout, however I like this selection this week. He doesn't have a long Open history, but his T4 in 2000 at St. Andrews is a great indicator of what might be this week. He's won a major (PGA 2001), competed hard at Pinehurst (T-15), and his game has come back to life recently.
4. Alistair Forsyth (Field 17/4): The 2002 Carlsberg Malaysian Champion would be a dramatic champion if he could pull off the un-thinkable this week at the Old Course. He's a homegrown Scotsman, and the fans will surely rally around their own this week. Mixed results this year, but finished T8 at the Scottish Open behind Tim Clark last week, so he's riding the hot streak coming in. Could be like Robbie Williams after this week. Big in the UK. Big in the UK.
5. Fred Couples (90/1): Huh? How can "1-iron" pick a guy that hasn't played in this event in two years, and finished 46th and 112th the last times he did actually play? Well, Fred Couples has a track record at the British, and let's just say it ain't too shabby. Eight Top 10s dating back to 1984 and a 6th place finish at St. Andrews in 2000 are credibility enough for me. He's having a solid 2005 campaign as well. Work with me people. At around 90/1, he's worth a flier.
6. Tim Clark (50/1): "1-iron" loves to ride the hot hand, and nobody comes in hotter right now. The winner of last week's Scottish Open at Loch Lomond is a superstar on the worldwide stage, and could very well break out this week at St. Andrews. He's No. 23 on the US Money list, has won in South Africa and Scotland, and has all the game necessary to win this week. At around 50/1, he could be huge money.
6 Who Can:7. Phil Mickelson (12/1): After a slew of mediocre finishes at the Open, Phil finally broke through and finished in solo third last year behind Todd Hamilton. This year, it's a mixed bag. 10th at the Masters and 33rd at Pinehurst. He's ninth in putting but 159th in driving accuracy. He better find the short stuff this week, otherwise he's in for a long week. Finished T11 in 2000 behind Tiger and T39 behind Daly at St. Andrews.
8. Darren Clarke (25/1): He's liable to wear Purple plaid pants with a green pullover this week, but he's also liable to win the golf tournament. "1-iron" takes his hat off to Clarke, who skipped the US Open to be with his cancer-stricken wife during her recovery period. One good turn deserves another, so let's give him a strong nod this week. 28th on the US Money list with two Top 10s, he finished T2 last week at the Scottish Open.
9. Retief Goosen (15/1): Ugh. I shudder as I type this. The only saving grace is that he's not paired with Jason Gore (Winner on the Nationwide Tour this past week) during the opening round of the Open. I would never even list him seventh, but his track record across the pond is too good. His last 4 British Opens have gone T7, T10, T8, and T13. That's too good to overlook, even if he did blow his wad at Pinehurst.
10. Mark Hensby (Field 17/4): First British Open could be a huge one. Got a huge vault from his final round 64 last week at the John Deere. TPC at Deere Run and St. Andrews are a bit different, but nonetheless. He passed on the chance to come over last year, but he may be eligible for the next 10 after this year.
11. Nick O'Hern (85/1): Number 10 on the European Tour Order of Merit, and three Top 10s in the US. Guy is tough, and we haven't even discussed how he rolled Tiger Woods at the Accenture Match Play. Has only played two British Opens, so the resume is spotty there.
12. Tom Lehman (100/1): The Ryder Cup Captain and 1996 Champion could have a nice showing this year at St. Andrews. If he does, it will be his first nice showing at the Open since his T4 in 2000 at St. Andrews. Hasn't played well across the pond at the Open lately, but has shown flashes this year of seeing it fall into place. Loves major championships.
6 Who Can't:13. Thomas Bjorn (40/1): There is no bigger head case right now. Can make Retief Goosen's meltdown at Pinehurst look like Championship Golf. Led the Masters after three rounds, only to shoot 81 in the final round. Had the lead in 2003 at the Open with three holes to go and blew up down the stretch to lose to Ben Curtis. Led the Smurfit European Open by four shots going into the final round, hit three balls into the water and made 11 on 17, and gave us an 86 to remember to finish T33rd. This guy's a mess and even his best friend Tiger Woods can't help him this week.
14. Nick Faldo (Field 17/4): 3 Time British Open Champion (inc. 1990 at St. Andrews) has an unbelievable record at this tournament. However, this "miserable bugger's" best years are behind him, and chances are he'll be in the booth by early Saturday after having missed the cut. A better bet would be to wager that he finds a new wife this week.
15. Chris Dimarco (60/1): Take him in the Masters Pool, but not here. His British Open track record looks like his putting grip - ugly. In his only appearance at St. Andrews in 2000, he gave us a T114. His other finishes haven't been much better. 2004-T63. 2003-T107. 2002-T66. 2001-T47. May not see the weekend. Plays a game ideal for American soil, not the windswept links.
16. John Daly (75/1): 1995 Champion in dramatic fashion after he won a playoff against Constantino Rocca, just after Rocca sank a 65-foot putt from the Valley of Sin on 18 to force the playoff. Daly's had a nice comeback year, but his performances in the Open after his win have been horrendous with no showing inside the Top 66 since 1996.
17. Vijay Singh (10/1): While he's had stellar performances at St. Andrews, (Tied for 11th in 2000 behind Tiger Woods and sixth in 1995 behind John Daly) Vijay's clutch putting is killing him in majors this year. He's 126th in putts per round on tour, and on the big greens of St. Andrews - that won't cut it. T6 at the US Open, and T5 at the Masters are big, but there's too many other choices this week.
18. Chad Campbell (80/1): Had a nice finish in 2003 at Royal St. George's with a T15 behind Ben Curtis. Other then that, hasn't shown us much in big tournaments since his PGA Championship runner-up finish in 2003. Was supposed to be the next big thing - we're still waiting.
Fantasy Salary Cap Value Pick: Daniel "Lamb" Chopra. Born in Sweden, trained in India, Australian Wife, and lives in Florida. An international player for the international stage.
"1-iron" will be appearing on WFIN 1330AM in Findlay, Ohio and 980AM Homer The Sports Animal in Dayton, Ohio this week to preview the British Open.
Questions, Comments, Suggestions: E-mail "1-iron" at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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