The British Open golf tournament begins Thursday and returns to probably the toughest of the courses used for that tournament: Carnoustie. The Open hasn't been played at Carnoustie since 1999 when one of the most spectacular collapses in golf history took place. French golfer Jean Van de Velde went to the last hole with a three-stroke lead, needing only a double bogey to clinch the win. However, he made bad decision after bad decision en route to a triple bogey seven. He later lost the tourney in a playoff.
Carnoustie is a beast, especially when the weather is bad. Most people only remember Van de Velde’s follies, but all the golfers in '99 really struggled. Scottish golfer Paul Lawrie won it that year, but he was only six over par.
According to one recounting of the tournament, Sergio Garcia went straight from the course to his mother's arms where he broke down and wept after one tough round. Garcia was only 19 at the time, but any course that can make grown men cry is all right with me.
Over the weekend, I watched a preview of the tourney, and the commentators walked the course in order to give the viewer an idea of what the golfers will face. The most intimidating thing I saw were the steep bunker walls that the players have to hit over when hitting a ball out of a sand trap. I struggle hitting out of the sand and would really flounder having to elevate the ball so quickly just to get out of the hazard. Of course, after two or three tries, I usually just throw the ball out anyway.
Who will win? Tiger Woods has won the last two Opens so he has to be a frontrunner. Factor in that he hasn't won a major title this year, and he becomes that much more of a frontrunner. Historically, Phil Mickelson does not play well in this tournament. Additionally, the British Open is tougher to handicap because of all the European golfers that I have never heard of because they don't play much in America.
So I’ll take the easy way out and pick Tiger.