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The Open Championship Preview: Long, Accurate Hitters Could Have the Advantage!

142nd Open Championship - Previews

The Open Championship – a.k.a. “The British Open” or simply, “The Open” – teed off this morning at Muirfield in Scotland. (Zach Johnson and Mark O’Meara are the early leaders and Tiger Woods tees off at 9:45.) Since it is a Major, our resident golf nut and longtime commenter Spencer096 is here to talk about the weather, Sergio’s chances and just how beautiful golf is in general. 

CRM: So do you have any flowery quotes that’ll get this thing started off right?

spencer096: Tom Watson said Muirfield without wind “is like a lady undressed…no challenge!”

CRM: That’ll do pig, that’ll do. Speaking of being a pig, you’re not going to act like a snobby Euro and demand it be called “the Open” are you?

spencer096: Listen, I call it the Open because that’s what people call it. It just makes it easier, OK? That said, I don’t really care if you call it the British Open, because, lets be honest, if the Europeans were half as good at golf as they act, the continent’s best players wouldn’t flock to the US.

CRM: But isn’t the reason there are three majors in the US is simply due to money?

spencer096: Football was invented in the northeast US, but, CLEARLY, it ain’t their game anymore. Calling it “the Open” is so inherently Colonial British. Good for you guys, your Open has been around longer…I guess us Yanks can take solace in the fact that almost every great British golfer plays a distinctly American-style game these days. Justin Rose is English! Interesting, considering he’s got more of an American-style game than most Americans do and the fact he’s probably spent 75% of his time in Florida since he was 17…

nick-faldoCRM: We-

spencer096: And, lets be honest here…you ask any pro golfer out there, and I guarantee the tournament they REALLY want to win is the Masters.
Well, we can also take solace in the fact that the US has something like 5,000 major winners to like five Brits since World War II, but there’s no need to get petty.

CRM: Remind me not to mention that again. OK, so what are you expecting this weekend?

spencer096: I really have no idea.

CRM: Nothing?

spencer096: Nope.

CRM: So what’s the point of this then?

spencer096: What’s the point of anything, man?

CRM: As the great Meghan Hardin once said…hold up, we’re already veering way off course. Stick to The Open.

spencer096: Wait. We can talk about Meghan Hardin if you want. You want to talk about Meghan Hardin? I’ll talk about Meghan Hardin.

CRM: No, let’s get back to The Open.

spencer096: What about Holly Sonders?

CRM: No! The Open! Preview it! Now!

spencer096: Well here’s the problem man, it’s the freaking Open. I could talk about a bunch of players that are playing well or have great metrics or are riding a hot streak, but really, none of that shit matters at all.

CRM: What do you mean?

spencer096: Links golf is a different beast than target golf, and Muirfield is a “proper links.” Tiger’s said the fairways are playing as fast as they were when he won his Open at Hoylake and considering that the wind (or lack there of) will play such a huge factor in determining whom the course will fit, I guess we really just have to take a wait and see.

CRM: Not really helping the punters.

spencer096: THE PUNTERS!? /makes get a load of this guy motion

CRM: Well that was rude. And you’re not helping…

spencer096: What do you want me to say? I could say “the course favors long, accurate hitters” for like the five thousandth straight time but that’d be a total waste of time. Wait, the longer and more accurate you hit it, the better your chances?!?!?! NO WAY!!!

CRM: Oh come on, that’s totally over-simplifying it!

spencer096: Is it really? This just in…if you hit the ball like Adam Scott or Justin Rose, it doesn’t matter if your putting stroke looks like a 5 handicappers.

CRM: Now you’re just being ridiculous.

spencer096: I know, I know. Just compensating for my lack of confidence in making a pick…

142nd Open Championship - Round One

CRM: I have to interrupt for a second. You took Sergio in your pick-em league, didn’t you?

spencer096: Yes.

CRM: You really need to leave him. He’s not going to change! Haven’t you suffered enough? Haven’t you learned anything?

spencer096: Apparently not. I just don’t know, man! Like, if it’s dry and windy, I like Rose/Scott types, but if it’s dry and calm, I’ll take shorter hitters that aren’t as likely to roll into the rough thanks to these baked out fairways. If it’s wet? Might as well just pick a name from a hat.

CRM: Ok, lets try this out…I’m just gonna fire off a bunch of players and you tell me if they have a chance or not. Rickie Fowler.

spencer096: Great chance. I’m not a huge Fowler fan due to his swing…he rotates his clubface an incredible amount and the more clubface rotation you have, the more you’re reliant on timing. Something that’s likely to cause some skanky shots under pressure, which we’ve seen from Fowler in the past.

CRM: Justin Rose.

spencer096: I’ll say both he and Adam Scott have a great chance to get another major and you can say that about every major from here on out. They’re just such elite ballstrikers, they can contend anywhere, at any time regardless of how well they’re putting.

CRM: Luke Donald.

spencer096: I think he’s the player hurt most if it’s windy…he’s not a great driver by any stretch. While you don’t need to be a great driver like you do at other rota courses, an errant drive can put you in a spot that’ll add two or three strokes to your score, easy.

CRM: Phil Mickelson.

spencer096: Never, ever, EVER count out Phil Mickelson. When you do, he wins. When you think he’s gonna steamroll, he’s likely to miss the cut. He’s been playing much better in Scotland as of late, and I think he’s got a shot here, as he does every week.

CRM: Thanks. Well, that should be about…

spencer096: There isn’t anyone else on that list?

CRM: No.

spencer096: You sure?

CRM: Yes.

spencer096: There isn’t ONE more name on the list? Maybe circled and double-underlined? Dating a blonde? Been in the news before?

CRM: *sigh* Tiger.

spencer096: He says his elbow’s fine, but we haven’t seen him in action so who knows? I’m not nearly as confident about his game as I was earlier in the year, but he is Tiger Frickin’ Woods, after all.

CRM: Glad we covered that. Anything else to add?

spencer096: The Open isn’t my favorite major to watch because, even in the HD era, you really don’t get a good idea of what makes links golf so intoxicating from a golfer’s point of view. You really can’t see those little swales and undulations on the rolling fairways and greens and you don’t get a clear picture of what type of shot’s required like you do on American style courses where the sight lines are clean and precise. You don’t get a great idea of why leaving yourself that 20’ putt’s a much better option than firing at the pin and leaving yourself a twisty five footer.

Links golf is all about subtlety. There aren’t aesthetically beautiful, albeit architecturally lazy forced carries or water hazards, no trees, or thick, lush rough…the difficulty is having a little swale that puts you in a hook lie while the wind is howling right-to-left but the shot calls for a gentle fade that’ll land and seep towards a tucked right pin position, shit like that, and it’s that kind of stuff you can’t get from a telecast no matter how well informed the broadcasters are (and Tirico and Van Pelt do a great job with the broadcast).

The Open’s a fun little breath of fresh air in the golf kingdom, a great palate cleanser compared to what we’re used to seeing. Lush greenery is replaced with brown frown. Trees replaced with an unpredictable wind. Water hazards replaced with Valleys of Sin where, yea, you’re not taking a penalty stroke, but you best believe finding one of these awesomely-named hazards will cost you a few extra strokes. Links golf is in direct contrast with what we’re used to seeing…and damn if it isn’t refreshing.

If you enjoyed this, Spence also has a new blog, Persimmon & Mashie, so check that out if you don’t have enough golf in your life. Golf wins again!

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