July 13, 2008

2008 British Open Preview

Ok, for this year's WEISND British Open coverage, I figured we would head down to Naples, Florida and turn it over to the man who knows more about the PGA Tour than anyone I know. So without further adieu, please welcome special guest blogger Kenny Riddell as he graciously allowed us to put his widely read annual British Open preview on our measly site this year. Needless to say, he is VERY excited for Thursday to get here. I would say that this guide is "for entertainment purposes" only, but where is the fun in that?? After you read it, you might as well head right over to http://www.sportsbook.com/ to put a couple pounds (or euros if that's your style) down because you won't find a better preview anywhere on the internet. Great stuff. Enjoy!!

Hello friends and welcome to the 2008 British Open Preview. This year’s Open will be played at Royal Birkdale, a course that boasts previous champions such as Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller (who shot a 63 in the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont) and Tom Watson. Wouldn’t it be great to join that list of decorated past winners?

Well, one person who doesn’t think so is Mr. Kenny Perry. K. Perry has unquestionably been the hottest player on tour not named Eldrick over the past 4 months. But a month after he decided to stay home for the 2008 U.S. Open, he has again opted to skip a major and instead will play in the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee this week. Kenny P. is sure to be a hit on the cocktail party circuit in 15 years when he boasts about his 3 wins at the John Deere Classic and doesn’t have a major on his resume. How is Kenny Perry going to live with himself knowing that he was the hottest player in the game in 2008 and he skipped two chances to win major championships when Tiger Woods was unable to play? He would easily be in my top 2 if he teed it up this week. Again, I don’t think he will regret these decisions in the future at all.

At this point Ryder Cup Captain Paul Azinger has his finger squarely on the panic button. Tiger Woods is out for the season and quietly reminded us all that he could give a damn about the Ryder Cup by taking about 3 seconds to reject an assistant captain offer from ‘Zinger. Phil Mickelson is likely discussing “no driver” strategies with Dave Pelz, has 8 wedges in his bag and will probably make a phone call to Taylor Made to switch his equipment the day before the event. Azinger’s third best player (Perry) has decided to skip two majors this season, just recently stopped wearing shirts that have tobasco sauce bottles all over them, hooks every shot he looks at (including his putts), shoved a 5 foot putt about 3 feet to the right to lose the 1996 PGA (coincidentally also at Valhalla, the site of the 2008 Ryder Cup) and followed it up with a violent knee collapse/putter raise to act as if the putt burned the edge. And to no one’s surprise he lost the ensuing playoff. So what I’m hinting at here is unless Anthony “AK23” Kim can break out his best Kirby Puckett impersonation and tell the fellas to “hop on his back”, I think it’s safe to say that Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, and Darren Clarke will be pouring champagne all over themselves and chugging Guiness at Valhalla again in ’08. But hey it’s only July and you never know who could pull a 2007 Steve Stricker and get hot at the right time.

Back to the 2008 British Open. I’m sure this decision will come back to haunt me but I did not include every player in the field for this year’s Open preview. As is tradition at the Open, some unknown playing on the Asian Tour will jump out to a 3 shot lead on Thursday so it might be a good idea to get familiar with the names below. My apologies if one of these players does his best imitation of Thomas Levet (who is in the field this week) and contends on Sunday.

Thomas Aiken, Brad Lamb, Peter Fowler, Chih Bing Lam, Scren Kjeldsen, James Kingston, Danny Chia, Joshua Cunliffe, Adam Blyth, Wen-Chong Liang, Damian McGrane, Douglas McGuigan, Hennie Otto, Ewan Porter, David Smail, Richard Sterne, Andrew Tampion, Toru Taniguchi, Hideto Tanihara, Oliver Wilson, Anders Hansen, Angelo Que, Brendan Jones, Darren Fichardt, Gregory Havret, Peter Hanson, Richard Finch, Richard Green, Peter Appleyard, Philip Archer, Jon Bevan, Rohan Blizard, Greg Bourdy, Gary Boyd, Ariel Canete, Simon Dyson, Pelle Edberg (brother of Stefan?), Johan Edfors, Ross Fisher, David Frost, Tom Gillis, Jon Baptist Gonnet, David Horsey, Barry Hume, Hiroshi Iwata, Shintaro Kai, Douglas Labelle II, Pablo Larrazabal, Michael Letzig, Jonathan Lomas, Prayad Marksaeng, Michio Matsumura (I think he’s one of the iron chefs), Jeff Overton, Reinier Saxton, Thomas Sherreard, Scott Strange, Yoshinobu Tsukada, Simon Wakefield, Anthony Wall, Philip Walton, Paul Waring, Steve Webster, Martin Wiegele, Chris Wood, Azuma Yano or Nick Dougherty.

It also pains me to say that my good friend Duffey Phelps will be without his favorite player this week. Freddy Couples is not playing and he will be missed.

So without further ado, let’s break down the rest of the 2008 British Open field!

Just looking for some free Titleist ProV1’s from the range and a two night stay in a luxury hotel

Shaun Micheel – Still can’t believe this guy is a major champion. If anyone is wondering what the PGA Tour will look like after Tiger Woods retires, look no further than the 2003 PGA Championship. Here is your top 5 from that year:

1) Micheel
2) Chad Campbell
3) Tim Clark
4) Alex Cejka
5) Jay Haas

A ratings bonanza if I’ve ever seen one. PGA Tour Commish Tim Finchem must call Tiger every hour and ask him when he is planning on retiring so he can just quit on the same day.

John Daly – Big JD is in the field thanks to an exemption from his improbable victory at the Old Course in 1995. Saw some recent pictures on the internet of him in a Pro-Am drinking 40’s with Kid Rock so I’m sure he’ll be bringing his “A” game to Birkdale this week.

Ben Curtis – This category is quickly becoming a list of players that you have to check pgatour.com just to make sure that they really did win a major. Yup, Big Ben won the 2003 British Open. Also rocks a sponsorship with the NFL. I wonder if he will break out the Dolphins and Giants gear this week to commemorate the first NFL game played in London last season. We can only hope that the giant Jason Taylor robot shows up as well.

Todd Hamilton, Paul Lawrie, Angel Cabrera, Michael Campbell, David Duval – Not much to say here other than they are all major champions and I’d be astonished if any of them made the cut. Cabrera actually has some real talent but, as weird as it sounds, the man needs to pick up his smoking habit again! Ever since he banished the cancer sticks he’s been playing most of his shots from the heavy stuff. Let’s hope that the Marlboro Man finds Angel on Wednesday so he can stick around to see the weekend.

Benjamin Hebert – Sadly, Benjamin is not related to former Atlanta Falcons great Bobby Hebert. They both have a similar shot at winning this week.

Graeme McDowell & Storm – Two Graeme’s in the field this week. Neither has a chance.

Good to see you are still playing and we wish you the best on the Champions Tour

Greg Norman – Hey, congrats are in order to the Shark! Just got married to tennis champ Chris Evert. Pretty amazing that he is here this week considering he has about $600 million and probably arrived in a G5. Enjoy the pot pie, Greg!

Colin Montgomerie – Will be a fan favorite (as always in Europe) but hasn’t been playing particularly well this year. You can bet that he’ll have his game in tip top shape in time for the Ryder Cup though. Maybe the most accurate driver of the golf ball not named Fred Funk.

Tom Lehman – A former British Open champ who quietly put together a tie for 6th at this year’s Players Championship. I can’t imagine he’ll make any noise this week but good to see him out there still hacking.

Sandy Lyle – If I could trade places with one player for one shot in the history of golf it would have to be Sandy on the 72nd hole at the 1988 Masters. Sandy striped a difficult fairway bunker shot to about 7 feet just when it seemed that he would never get his arms into the coveted green jacket. Now he’s throwing back scotch and trading barbs with the Golden Bear every April at the Champion’s Dinner at Augusta National. Stones of steel on this man and I hope the crowds pay him some proper respect on Thursday and Friday.

Tom Watson – Speaking of proper respect, how ‘bout a little dap for Mr. Tom Watson? Birkdale was the sight of Watson’s 5th Open win so he is sure to be a huge fan favorite this week. It’s too bad legendary “essayist” Jim McKay passed away earlier this year because you can bet that he would have given a dusty montage involving Mr. Watson at this year’s Open. Let’s hope that Tom Rinaldi is up to the task and I’ll keep the box of Kleenex close by just in case. Maybe the Shark can loan his G5 to Dick Enberg for the weekend? Oh my! Might be asking for too much there.

Mark Calcavecchia – Hate to put Calc in this category but had to find a spot for him in the preview. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Calc’s name on the leaderboard at some point this week but anyone counting on him for gambling purposes will most likely be disappointed.

Mark O’Meara – I think we’re all surprised that Mark relinquished his duties of re-filling the ice bags for Tiger’s knee and decided to make this trip.

Talented, but could use a different approach

Charles Howell III – Chuck Howell III has to be one of the most disappointing players of the past few years. I’ve never been a big fan of David Leadbetter and young Chuck might unfortunately become the poster child for reasons not to get swing advice from this man. What a disaster. Let’s hope that he turns it around soon.

Rory Sabbatini – Uncharacteristically average year for Rory. I had the pleasure of watching Rory take a #2 break at the port-o-potty behind the 17th hole during the 2005 Memorial. He was also wearing camouflaged pants that day. Seems like an interesting character.

Zach Johnson – Hairplugs Johnson is going to have to step it up if he wants to avoid being a “can’t believe that guy won a green jacket” player. His application is in and the committee, consisting only of charter member Mike Weir at this point, is ready to approve it if he doesn’t turn it on soon.

Jim Furyk – Hard to say he’s having a bad year when he’s currently 15th in the Fedex Cup standings, but we’ve come to expect more from this man. Rumor has it he has been struggling with the blade, but of more concern is his fondness for Tommy Bahama button down golf shirts. Switch to the two button Vineyard Vines golf shirts, Jim, and you will be draining bombs all over the track. Can't help you on the hair situation, though.. Keep the hat on I guess.

David Toms – What in the world is going on with David Toms? I was quietly touting him as a future 3-time major winner and now he looks like he has been taking lessons from Ian Baker-Finch. He’s a big LSU Tigers fan so I like to think that he hitched his wagon to the CBS crew of Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson this past SEC football season and is experiencing a prolonged hangover.

Aaron Baddeley – Another promising young player who hasn’t been getting it done recently. Hasn’t quite been the same since his disastrous 2007 final round at Oakmont. I watched him in the Accenture Match Play against Tiger and he was hitting snap hooks that were about 5 yards above the ground. It was like watching a midget-version of Kenny Perry hack it around. Great putter though and the British Open greens are notoriously slower than the PGA Tour greens. If he gets hot with the wand, watch out.

Retief Goosen – Still hasn’t quite recovered from his epic final round meltdown at the Pinehurst #2 U.S. Open a few years back. Retief certainly has a ton of game and I hope he gets back to where he was soon. Maybe he should try to get struck by lightning one more time.

Stuart Appleby – Stu isn’t necessarily having a bad season. Just kind of doing what he always does. I guess we just have to be patient until he blows another Sunday lead at the Buick Open and secures his 2009 tour card with a T3. Also made a terrible decision to cut his flowing locks which probably cut his fan galleries in half. Bring back the shag, Stu!

Davis Love III – It has been a rough couple of seasons for Mr. Love. I heard from someone that he has been busy designing golf courses. He’s not going to win this week but he’ll probably wear a couple of nice Polo shirts.

The “Experts” will probably like them this week but I don’t

Sergio Garcia – No one is expected to step up his game during Tiger Woods’ absence more than this guy. The interesting thing here is that outside of Tiger, I don’t think anyone on the planet can hit a golf ball better than Sergio Garcia. A recurring theme in this preview has been how well each player has been putting of late. Well no one has been putting as poorly as the young Spaniard (Vijay included). Sergio has absolutely mind-boggling talent from tee to green and could easily run off 5-7 majors in the next 10 years, but he is just not going to be a consistent major winner without improving his putting. It was nothing short of amazing to see him win the Player’s this year with the way he struggled on the greens that week. I don’t have the exact numbers but I want to say he averaged close to 31 putts per round that week. 31! How do you win a golf tournament of that importance by putting the ball 30+ times a round??? I’m not saying he can’t win one major (and hell he should have won last year’s British Open), but to be the player everyone knows he can be he has got to find a solution to this problem. Tiger Woods has 14 majors because he makes about 90% of those tricky 10 footers for par. Sergio has zero because he makes about 5% of those. All of that being said, if Serge can somehow win a major with his current putting stroke, I think it will be the British Open. You just can’t expect him to contend playing on greens that are running 13-14 on the stimp-meter at the Masters, PGA and U.S. Open.

Camilo Villegas – Another player with a lot of talent but hasn’t been able to consistently put it together. I really don’t like his golf swing these days either and he would be well advised to schedule an appointment with Butch Harmon. It’s amazing how far he can hit the ball despite what seems like a 5 second at the top of his swing. Must be pretty strong from all that HGH he is rumored to be taking. Shhhh…

Rocco Mediate – I am as big a Rocco fan as the next guy but I can’t see him carrying over the magic he captured at Torrey Pines. Quick story about the Rock. About 6 months before the U.S. Open, I saw Rocco at my local grocery store (Rocco is also a resident of Naples, FL). He was wearing a “Rehab is for Quitters” t-shirt, had a massive gut and was eating potato chips in the aisle of the store. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked to see a suddenly leaner Rock dueling it out with Tiger all weekend at the U.S. Open after that episode. Only in golf.

Adam Scott – Always a fan favorite with the ladies but hasn’t shown he has the game to win a major. Is it too early to start calling him overrated? Gotta improve with the putter if he is going to be the player everyone thinks he can become.

K.J. Choi – Big Choi has confused me in the past 12 months. Just as I was preparing myself mentally for K.J. to eventually win a major, he becomes erratic and inconsistent with the putter. So now I find myself totally unprepared for a Choi win this week.

Mike Weir & Trevor Immelman – It’s probably a mistake to include them in this category but it’s hard to put them anywhere else. I actually have high hopes for the I-Man’s future but his post-Masters struggles have been well documented. Is this going to be a recurring theme for reigning Masters Champs? If an above average player wins a jacket is he going to go in the tank for over a year? Between Hairplugs Johnson and the I-Man, we might just have to root for Tiger, Phil and Vijay to win the jacket for the rest of time so we can keep The Masters prestigious.

Justin Rose – Ladies and gentlemen, meet the poor man’s Nick Faldo! I was in shock when I watched him play at the Traveler’s Championship a few weeks back. Talk about mechanical! He was having a hard time taking the club back without hitching twice on the takeaway. The funny thing is that he has an almost perfect swing. Just grip it and rip it, JR. Loads of talent but I can’t see him winning until he gets over those demons.

Looking to gain some experience and excited about not getting carded at the pubs

Anthony Kim – I am a card carrying member of the AK23 fan club but even I can’t bring myself to pick this young sensation to win in his British Open debut. You have to learn how to play overseas and something tells me that young AK23 will pick up on it quickly. Not in time to do some damage this week, though. I will say that he is the most promising young player to come on tour in a long time; maybe even since Tiger. He chokes up on his driver about 6 inches and still bombs it just about as long as anyone on Tour not named Bubba Watson. Very, very impressive young player.

Martin Kaymer – Not a widely known player in the U.S. but has been receiving rave reviews from some pretty high profile players recently. Both Ernie Els and Gary Player have projected great things from the 24 year old German and let’s just say he is officially on my radar. A future Masters champion? Not out of the question.

Brandt Snedeker – I know he already gained experience at this year’s Masters but I still think his game needs a lot of work before he is going to consistently contend on the PGA Tour. Brandt sprays the ball all over the course and has been getting by with his putter and raw talent in the past year and a half. I’d like to see him have a great career but it concerns me that he is not huge off the tee like a lot of the other young guns. Maybe I am biased, but I like my young guns to be long. Wow, that sounded pretty awkward. Let’s just move on.

Sean O’Hair – Great looking swing and having another strong season. Unfortunately, he has been putting atrociously for a few months now and is pretty much a lesser version of Sergio Garcia at this point. Since O’Hair, Garcia and Kenny Perry are all sponsored by Taylor Made and Adidas, doesn’t that mean that Perry has to come down with a violent case of the yips soon? Please? We might have to check into this theory in about six months. Maybe those Clima-Cool shirts Adidas has been selling can hurt your putting stroke.

J.B. Holmes – Love John Holmes’ big drives but more importantly I love the black golf glove! My good friend Stan Ferger was the first to profess his love for the black golf glove and I am seconding his much respected opinion. J.B. is still pretty raw but if he keeps improving he could turn out to be everything John Daly never was. Please keep the Oreos and Jim Beam away from this man. Thanks.

Guys I’ve heard of but won’t bore you with a full paragraph

In the spirit of the category let’s keep this brief.

Ryuji Imada

David Howell

Robert Karlsson

Lucas Glover

Soren Hansen

Niclas Fasth

Tim Clark

Robert Allenby

Bart Bryant

Rod Pampling

Craig Parry

Stephen Ames – Mr. Ed!

Scott Verplank

Alex Cejka

Kevin Stadler – I’ll bet you $100 that a commentator makes the obligatory “He doesn’t look anything like his father!” joke this week. I’ll even bet you that it’s Tirico who does it.

Jean Van De Velde – Would be a great story.

Matt Kuchar

Rich Beem – Bud, Sweat and Tears is a great book.

Scott Mccarron

John Rollins

Paul Casey

Boo Weekley – Probably the most interesting player on this list besides Beemer but I try to limit my association with people named Boo. I had to stop reading To Kill a Mockingbird for this very reason.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….Might want to get the bookie on the line

Nick O’Hern – Make no mistake about the order that these picks are in. I have listed Nick O’Hern at the top of this list because I believe he has a very real chance to win the golf tournament this week. The southpaw has been playing great golf of late and do not be surprised if you see him on top of the board sometime on Sunday. If you saw O’Hern on the golf course you would not believe that he is one of the best players in the world. He is exactly that. Very sneaky with his game and I really like his chances. His game reminds me a lot of my good friend Jared Henry’s. Also a left hander on the golf course, Jared lost some pretty substantial money on Big Brown at the Belmont this year and I would love nothing more than to see him recoup some of those losses on an O’Hern win. This pick was particularly for him so keep an eye out.

Jeff Quinney – Another guy who has been playing lights out in 2008 is Jeff Quinney. He is more of an athletic player (if that makes any sense) that I think is very clutch. If he doesn’t come home with the jug I would argue that Captain Azinger has got to include him on the 2008 Ryder Cup team. Gutsy player and seems like he would be a great teammate.

Woody Austin – The Volcano has picked up right where he left off in 2007 and appears to have the game to win a major. The only problem is his terrible propensity to choke his guts out down the stretch. Just a couple of weeks ago, Woody bogeyed the last 2 holes at the Traveler’s Championship and his face turned a shade of purple that hasn’t even been discovered yet. Awkward moment and I think everyone was fearful for his caddy’s life. Hence the nickname, The Volcano. Gotta love Woody though and I think he’ll be in the top 10, if not 5. Is anyone else disappointed that he has taken on the new nickname “Aqua Man” after his nose dive into a lake at the President’s Cup last year? Admittedly, it was a hilarious event but “The Volcano” has got to be one of the best nicknames of all time. Allow me to be the first to attempt to bring it back.

Miguel Angel Jimenez – This is the last time I include “The Mechanic” in my sleeper picks if he doesn’t do some damage this week. He has to step up this year or else he is officially off of my list of sleepers forever.

Andres Romero – Briefly morphed into Vinny “The Microwave” Johnson in last year’s Open with 10 birdies (!!!!) on Sunday to finish 3rd in the Open. I can’t see him doing that again this year but he did come in 8th in the 2006 Open as well. Could he be a British Open specialist? We shall see.

Hunter Mahan – When I was first introduced to Hunter Mahan, the first thing that came to my mind was “douche bag”. He had the wrap around shades, orange shoes, soul patch, and gigantic belt buckle look going and I just couldn’t get myself to like the guy. But lately I have been feeling a Duval-esque connection with Hunter and I really like his swing. He is currently leading the tour in Greens in Regulation and it is no surprise when you look at how he swings the golf club. Great looking young player and certainly has the talent to win a major right now.

We’ll be seeing you on Sunday

Justin Leonard – A name flying under the radar! I like his chances and he has been playing well. I really like him in British Opens because the courses are not lengthened to 7,500 yards as the American majors have grown fond of doing.

Geoff Ogilvy – This guy has the demeanor to win 4 majors. I watched his entire Thursday round at Torrey Pines and it was a thing of beauty. Just an easy going style of play and appears to be a pretty clutch player. It’s been almost 2 and a half years since he won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot and I’m a little disappointed he hasn’t won another major since then. He’s got a young family so maybe golf isn’t his top priority these days. Still has a great shot this week.

Steve Stricker – Well it’s that time of year again. Hot dogs are on the grill, baseball is in full swing and, yup, Steve Stricker is warming up his golf game. Stricker is probably the most popular player amongst his peers on tour (with apologies to Jerry Kelly) and always seems to turn it on in the late summer months. He doesn’t hit the ball exceptionally long but this guy can make a ton of putts when he gets going. I would argue that he has wrestled away the crown of “best putter on tour” from Brad Faxon, who held the crown for about 15 seasons. Well done, Strick, and we will be rooting for you.

Luke Donald – I know, I know. This is the kind of pick that is popular in the fraternity houses where no one knows anything about golf and everyone gets a chubby because they can scream LOOOOOOOOOOOKE all weekend long (no, they’re not booing). But I actually like Luke for the same reason I like Justin Leonard this week. Birkdale is going to be playing a rather pedestrian 7,180 yards and that opens the door for a lot of the shorter hitters to play well. So put your pastel Lacoste shirt on, flip your collar, and start tossing the football out in the front lawn with your bros and let’s get all fratty up in this preview.

(Editor's Note: Luke Donald is injured and out of the British Open)

Fredrik Jacobson – Hey let’s add a little spice to this preview, shall we? Fredrik is one of the most colorful players on tour and thank god he is here this week because this tournament is going to feel like a Hooters Tour event with Tiger not participating. Jacobson (pronounced Yock-obson) has been playing great recently and I think he’ll introduce himself to the world with a flourish on Friday and Saturday before a colossal Sunday meltdown that would make Thomas Bjorn blush. Look for him in the top 7 when the smoke has cleared.

Will be disappointed with anything but the Claret Jug

Phil Mickelson – Been a strange year for Skinny Phil. Yeah, he’s second in the FedEx Cup standings but you get the feeling that he is just not comfortable with the Butch Harmon swing changes yet. My theory is that Phil is the most stubborn guy on the PGA Tour and no matter how good his swing doctor is he’s always going to do Phil-type things. So, instead of waiting around for Phil to become as consistent as Tiger in the majors, I’m just going to start becoming comfortable with the fact that he is going to win 1 major every 3 years or so. For the record, I’m eagerly anticipating an Alex Rodriguez-type infidelity scandal involving Phil in the coming years.

Ernie Els – It appears to be another year of wasted talent for the Big Ern as he just can’t to seem to get back to his 2000 form. I can’t really criticize the guy though because he has been working on his game. It just appears that he is working on the wrong things. I’m not expecting much from him this week (although he was a little feisty at the U.S. Open).

Vijay Singh – My favorite player of all time is heating up at the right moment and I think he’s got to be in your top 10. Quietly pieced together 4 sub-70 rounds at the Traveler’s. Could the curious decision to change his swing at 45 years old be paying dividends? We shall see. Although his swing has been tweaked, Vijay (which means “Victory” in Hindi) still is the slowest walker in the history of the game and frequently stays on the putting green to talk to his caddy for about 10 minutes after he holes out. I’m sure the groups playing behind him have great things to say about the Big Fijian. As always, I love Vijay’s chances this week.

Padraig Harrington – Padraig has been relatively quiet since his triumph at last year’s British Open but you know Paddy will have his game firing on all cylinders at Birkdale. Let’s hope his cousin, former Oregon Ducks legend Joey Harrington, is not lurking in the grandstands authoring poetry and longing for the touch of a woman’s cheek. Gotta have the defending champion in your top 10.

4th, 3rd and 2nd Place (In that order)

Ian Poulter – Ian is best known for his interesting wardrobe but the guy has a ton of game to go with his ridiculous threads. I once watched him hit a 185 yard low hook from the trees that must have curved about 40 yards before landing about 2 feet from the hole. Talented player and has all the shots to win the British Open.

Henrik Stenson – I famously professed my love for Henrik’s game in this year’s Masters Preview (authored by fellow golf enthusiast, Stan Ferger) and my position remains the same. This guy is going to be a superstar in the game of golf and I will remain on his bandwagon until they throw me off. How can you not love a guy that has Nick Faldo’s old caddy, Fannie, on the bag? How can you not love a guy who’s a little salty with the media? The guy has got big time game and I think he’s going to win a ton of golf tournaments. But is it his time? No.

Stewart Cink – Did you know that Stewart Cink is the 5th best golfer in the world right now? Did you know that he is leading the PGA tour in top 10’s this season and is 5th in scoring? Stew has been nothing short of outstanding this year and I think he is ready to contend in a major. For those of you that don’t remember, Stew did his best Scott Hoch impression at the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills and might as well have been using a hockey stick for a putter for the next 3 to 4 season. Stew has gone to everyone’s best friend, the belly putter, and now he’s improved his short game from atrocious to adequate. Whatever works. He’ll be right there on Sunday but you can bet that his putting stroke will be VERY shaky.

The Champion Golfer of the Year

Lee Westwood – Pretty popular pick here because of Lee’s rock solid performance during the weekend at Torrey Pines. If I was making the pick for that reason I would say that I’m an idiot and I shouldn’t have written a 5,300 word British Open preview. No, I’m picking Mr. Westwood because he has been one of the best players in the world for the last 2 years. He’s just not as well known because he chooses not to play on the PGA Tour full time. It’s a shame because he is pretty much a rich man’s Darren Clarke. As it seems to be every two years, Westwood’s talent will again be on display at the 2008 Ryder Cup. I shudder at the thought of Captain Paul sending Phil Mickelson to play Westwood in the match play. If that is the scenario, I will calmly lay the keys of my 2006 Hyundai Sonata on the table and slide it to my bookie as collateral for a Westwood win. The British Open is a different kind of tournament and Lee knows how to play these types of courses all too well. It will be pandemonium in the streets of London as the Englishman hoists the jug and celebrates his first (of many) major victories.

Enjoy the tournament!


Ravi said...

Pure gold. Kenny might be one of maybe ten Americans setting their alarms for Saturday and Sunday morning in order to catch coverage of The Open Championship sans Eldrick Tiger Woods. Just read that the R&A actually contemplated changing the name to account for Tiger's absence just so they wouldn't have to deal with the asterisk issue later on.

Here’s hoping that Monty or Sergio wins so the media can continue to claim them major-less since Tiger’s not playing, which makes this tournament essentially equivalent to the US Bank Championship being held in Milwaukee this weekend (maybe Kenny Perry isn’t a puss after all). Kenny’s Tim Finchem retirement quip is fantastic and probably dead on.

Doug said...
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Doug said...

Agree. Kenny is probably the only person I know who can throw out a Thomas Levet comparison and a Thomas Bjorn joke all in the same preview.

The Finchem comment cracked me up too mainly because there's probably a lot of truth there. Finchem deserves credit for helping the game grow and all the huge corporate sponsorships and huge purses that are on tour now, but let's be honest. The biggest reason for the tour's success is because of Tiger Woods.

As far as this Rory Sabbatini story is concerned, was it one of those newer half trough/half stalls port-o-pottys that they have at the Memorial these days or was it just a straight single?? Did he wait on line?? Why did he go to a port-o-potty instead of using one of those hospitality houses?? There are a bunch of houses along the 17th hole from what I recall. That is hilarious. I wonder if there was any toilet paper in his stall.

I'm a huge Justin Rose fan, but he I agree with you that he needs to just let his talent take over. I followed him for about half his round in the final round of The Memorial this year, and he has the best swing I've ever seen. He hits draws that look like something out of a computer simulation. I thought this was going to be the year where he made the leap after a great year last year, but he's done nothing this year other than a good Memorial finish.

I knew you were picking Lee Westwood. Great pick. Seems like we've been waiting for him to break out for about 10 years now. He's long overdue, and I agree with you that he's the best obscure golfer in the world.

I expect this tournament to produce a solid champion, and I agree with you that Kenny Perry would have been just the guy to win it. Just looking at the past couple winners at Royal Birkdale, it's actually been one of those courses where a guy in the middle of a career year has won. Finch was an elite player in 1991 when he won, and O'Meara was in the middle of his career year in 1998 when he won.

k said...

There's a set of port-o-pots behind the 17th tee. It's a great spot to drop a #2 because no one is ever back there by the tee (I would argue its also the best spot on the golf course to watch the players too. Watching Tiger from 5feet usually works.). Anyway, Rory blasted a beauty down the center and then headed for the john to drop off the kids at the pool for an estimated 13 minutes. No word on whether they had a fresh copy of the Columbus Dispatch in there for him. His playing partners were not amused with the delay but Rory came out smiling and laughing. The 15 or so people around the tee box were cracking up.

Jimmy said...

Solid 50-karat gold Kennster. I am in awe with the golf wisdom imparted.

I'm always firmly in Tommy Lehman's camp. Gotta support my Minnesota brethren.