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MUIRFIELD may not welcome back the Open Championship for another ten years even though the 131st staging of the event was hailed yesterday as an outstanding success by players, spectators and officials alike.
SANDY Lyle, the former Open and US Masters champion, yesterday reminded his troubled fellow-Scot Colin Montgomerie not to be too hard on himself and learn to accept that every professional goes through a sticky patch during his career.
THOMAS Levet lost an Open Championship he had a great chance of winning, but any comparisons with Jean Van de Velde end with the fact that they’re both French and they both came awfully close to having their names engraved on the precious Claret Jug.
BY WINNING the 131st Open at Muirfield and ending a barren five-year run without a major championship triumph, Ernie Els has emerged as the golfer most likely to engage Tiger Woods in the kind of rivalry last seen when Jack Nicklaus jousted with Tom Watson in the Seventies.
OPEN champion Ernie Els has cemented his third place in the world rankings and closed the gap on Phil Mickelson at No 2 following his dramatic victory at Muirfield.
COLIN Montgomerie will sit down today in London with his manager, Guy Kinnings, and discuss in the cold light of day what he plans to do next after delivering an outburst at Muirfield yesterday which suggests he has grown weary of the constant pressure attached to being Europe’s highest-profile golfer and is showing the wear and tear of chasing that elusive major title.
THE prize for the most schizophrenic golfer of the week goes not, as you might expect, to our own Stroppy Colin, but to the Japanese extrovert, Shingo Katayama.
GARY Evans, who has spent the years since turning professional in 1991 struggling to make any sort of impression on the European Tour, suddenly found himself at the conclusion of an Open, striding towards his perfect tee-shot at Muirfield’s 17th with a chance of setting a worrying clubhouse target for the stream of world stars who were still out on the course.
TOM Watson remarked the other day that modern golf balls were not affected by the wind. Presumably, he meant they are not as affected as the older balls used to be. They’re certainly affected, for I spend much of my golfing life watching wind-affected golf balls soaring off to far-flung and hostile places when I’d rather they didn’t.
ERNIE Els drew on reserves of courage and concentration to win the 131st Open at Muirfield yesterday by fending off the challenge of France’s Thomas Levet at the first sudden-death hole of a shoot-out after Steve Elkington and Stuart Appleby had fallen by the wayside in a four-hole play-off. All four golfers were tied for 72 holes on 278, six-under par.
WHAT is it about this year’s Open championship at Muirfield that has tested the composure of great golfers almost to destruction? There has been the atrocious weather, though it cannot be the first time that players of such experience have had to play in poor conditions.
IF FLEXIBILITY and a mastery of improvisation are essential to any golfer with aspirations to winning major tournaments on different continents, it would be advisable to reserve some of the wagering budget for Retief Goosen every time he tees up.
THE Big Easy yesterday prevailed at Muirfield after an exacting last day of the 131st Open Championship. The man known for his loftily-dignified presence lost none of his customary cool to lift the title, after twice having finished as runner-up.
WHERE were you on Saturday 21 July? Where were you when Tiger Woods shot his worst round as a professional golfer, when the rumble of rain provided a suitably apocalyptic soundtrack to the occasion? Where were you a day that will pass into golfing lore, when a succession of golfers walked out into the wilds and returned to find a new golfing order had been shaped by the elements.
RETIEF Goosen can attest to having already snagged his maiden major. Darren Clarke has not yet, but of all golf’s great events, it is at the Open that this Northern Irishman has come closest, on more than one occasion.
THERE’S reigning champions and raining champions. Whoever wins the 131st Open Championship will definitely fall into the latter category. And that man is unlikely to be 1999 winner Paul Lawrie.
ALL’s well that ends well, and sometimes the conclusion arrives as you like it. The final day of the Open, the last act, is an endgame fashioned before the gathered galleries. After 72 hours of jostling comes the real joust, and now and again the charge - a sustained onslaught.
FOR all his obsessive professionalism, impeccable attire and myriad corporate responsibilities, there are times when Tiger Woods seems to have no more spunk about him than Homer Simpson.