Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Talkin' Jean Van de Velde Massacre Disaster Blues

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.


Joltin' Django said...

Je suis un Fran├žais!

I can trace my forebears back to the Huguenots who came to Tennessee by way of South Carolina. Thus, I'm a certified Francophone ... and then some.

I wept for Jean Van de Velde when he lost a half-dozen years ago; and not 'cause he's French. He was so close and ... well, I did feel for him 'cause he's French. (Are you gonna eat those Freedom Fries?!)

Chris said...

Toothless Carnoustie? Lots of good scores in the first round, which is bad news for me because I like to watch the big boys struggle in the majors.

Sergio Garcia shot a 65 and looked great. Tiger a 69. Phil a 71.

Sure hope the wind picks up.

Chris said...

Unfortunately, I missed most of the final round, but it must have been a doozy. When I left for church this morning, Sergio was 10 under par and had a four shot lead. By the time I got back in the car, they were in the playoff.

The last hole of the playoff was tense and dramatic....just as it should be. Congrats to Padraig Harrington.