Open Notebook: Lefty back at Muirfield and Faldo’s stag to-doJuly, 2015
The other stories from the Open Championship
Mickelson enjoys Muirfield return
It has been another low-key Open week from Phil Mickelson but there was plenty to smile about from his time in Scotland.
Golfweek.com tells a story that will warm the cockles of your heart. On the Saturday night of the Scottish Open at Gullane Mickelson, his wife, caddy and the president of his management group, Steve Loy, decided to visit nearby where he had triumphed two years ago.
The fourball walked the last six holes with no clubs but a bottle of red wine, from the left-hander’s own collection, and four glasses.
After reminiscing over the closing stretch where he reeled in the leaders they stood where he had put the finishing touches to the 66 which gave him his fifth Major.
His wife Amy’s supposedly hat flew off into a greenside bunker and her husband did the right thing and went to retrieve it before raking the bunker in a meticulous fashion.
Last week Loy received a message on his phone from a number that he didn’t recognise.
The text, from a Muirfield member who was part of a group watching this all happen from the clubhouse, read:
“Phil’s act did not go unrecorded. Thank you. We have a true champion.”
Palmer pays his way
Having warmed your cockles let’s raise the temperature another notch with the help of The King, Arnold Palmer.
The 85-year-old went into the Open shop to buy himself a pair of shoes, some Ecco Bioms, the ones with the Masters green sole and laces. He also bought a poster of the Swilcan Bridge with the town in the background.
He then did the unthinkable and paid for it at the till.
Light still on for Watson
As Tom Watson said goodbye late on Friday night he told a nice story in a brief press conference.
Watson’s game had fallen apart, relatively speaking, for nine years when he found a swing key in 1994 and a light came on, a thought which allowed him to find the game easy again and very nearly win the Open at the age of 59.
“I’m here today playing golf when I’m 65 because of it, I can tell you. I was lucky to find it. We all play golf. We all make adjustments. I love it when Feherty said to Jack Nicklaus on his show, he asked him the question, “Have you ever changed a swing in a major championship?” And Jack said, “Yeah, I changed it six times on the back nine one time.”
Edberg slips up again
Last week we wrote about how Sweden’s Pelle Edberg flew into Aberdeen instead of Edinburgh as he got the venue of the Scottish Open wrong.
Then he left his clothes behind as he made his way to St Andrews. He missed the cut at +2.
Oh deer, Faldo
Everybody, save for the wounded party, loves a freak injury tale and this will make it into most top 10s in the years to come.
Sir Nick Faldo’s Open was almost over before it had begun after he impaled his middle finger on the antler of a wall-mounted deer head while taking his shirt off.
The six-time Major winner was all doom and gloom after an opening 81 and his mood wasn’t helped when the wound reopened on Friday morning which meant another visit to the hospital.
But, egged on by his children, he arrived back at the Old Course 45 minutes before his tee time and marched round in a brilliant one-under 71, helped by a three at the Road Hole dressed in his yellow Muirfield sweater.
“I think I’ve done that twice. I did that 10 years ago and that relaxed me at the last because I said I don’t care what I do up 18 now because I’ve just made 3 at 17.”
Faldo hinted that that might be it for the Open but he previously stated that he would play another two.
Lawrie gets invite to his own party
In two weeks the Paul Lawrie Match Play takes place at Murcar Links in Aberdeen where those eligible from the Race to Dubai standings will tee it up in a straight 64-man knockout.
As things stand the tournament host sits in 110th spot on the rankings though there isn’t much chance of not getting one of the two invites – it was announced this week that John Daly will get the other.
“As I stand, I need to invite myself to my own tournament (laughter), which I will do, obviously,” said Lawrie.
A tale of two nines
Every Open Championship we hear about how wind is the main defence of a links. Well here are a couple of good stats from day one, where the wind got up in the afternoon, to back that up.
Stroke averages – AM tee times: 71.46 PM tee times: 73.02
Score to par – Holes 1-9 -235 Holes 10-18 +272
Basic error from Van Zyl
Jaco Van Zyl had a strange Open debut to remember. The South African, who qualified through his third place in France, was one under after 12 holes but then went 7-7-6 to record a 79.
Then on Friday he was penalized two shots for teeing off three inches in front of the markers at the 8th which turned a par into another double.
He still managed a 69 but his +4 aggregate was too many.
Duval rewarded for late brilliance
David Duval hasn’t made the cut in the Open since 2008. He came to the last two holes on Saturday needing to stay at level par to make it through for another 36 holes around the Old Course.
He did the hard bit at 17, finding the green, but then three-putted from 20 feet. For a player who last played all four rounds was in Puerto Rico in March the prospect of a closing three looked fairly remote.
But Duval, one of the really good guys, then refocused and hit a pearler of a drive, straight at the pin. From where he two-putted and he now sits at -5 after a stellar 67 on Sunday.
“If I hit it into the houses (right), who cares?” Duval said. “A six wasn’t going to hurt me. The flag, I was going right at it.”
Brooks joins elite club
You have to go back to Anirban Lahiri at the 9th at Lytham in 2012 for the last Open hole-in-one.
Now Daniel Brooks joins the list of Open aces after knocking in his tee shot at the 11th, just the 25th in the championship’s history and the third at St Andrews where there are only two par 3s.
The shot was all the more impressive given the 11th is at the most exposed part of the course, it was still very gusty and was the scene, 10 hours earlier, of a stand-off between players and officials over the conditions.
Weir takes time out
2003 Masters champion Mike Weir won’t play in this week’s Canadian Open as he is taking an ‘indefinite leave of absence’ from the game for personal reasons.
The left-hander, who divorced earlier this year, said he is taking time off to focus on his personal life and two teenage daughters.
He withdrew after an opening 73 at the John Deere Classic and missed his previous eight cuts.
And finally, Rory
Rory McIlroy continued to get one or two headlines after Darren Clarke made a ‘joke’ about when he thought the World No. 1 would return – and then immediately retracted it.
Clarke was at a golf writers’ dinner to receive an award on behalf of his countryman and claimed that McIlroy wouldn’t be back until the new year.
He then said ‘Just kidding’ before adding ‘No I’m not’ in a manner that was more opinion than a joke.
But a spokesman for McIlroy said: “There was no basis for Darren’s comments. Rory’s rehabilitation is progressing well but his return date is not yet known.”
It seems more likely that he will be out for six to eight weeks and will therefore miss defending his Bridgestone and PGA titles.