British Open, a Major with a lot of imponderablesJuly 14th, 2010 - 8:15 pm ICT by IANS
By V. Krishnaswamy
St. Andrews (Scotland), July 14 (IANS) Can Tiger Woods turn back the pages once again at a course he is unabashedly in love with? Can some other veteran complete what Greg Norman and Tom Watson left unfinished at Birkdale and Turnberry? Can an Asian win the Open after finding a breakthrough at the Majors last year? And can the English produce a winner at their Open?
Imponderables all, but what would sport be without such questions!
Woods is looking for redemption at the British Open, a course where he has twice won the Open in 2000 and 2005. One more Major could put at rest arguments that Tiger is not what he was before hitting a fire hydrant. And it will also take him one step closer to Jack Nicklaus’ magic figure of 18 Majors.
Nicklaus, who waved a tearful goodbye to the Open at the Swilcan Bridge here in 2005, has not come for the Champions Challenge, where 27 former champions will play four holes for a charity.
But the popular Watson, a five-time winner, who almost added a sixth last year, is here again. But an injured shoulder has forced two-time champion Norman to pull out.
At the past two British Opens, Norman and Watson, have come close to winning the golf’s oldest major. Padraig Harrington beat 53-year-old Norman in the final round of the 2008 Open at Birkdale while Watson lost to Stewart Cink in a playoff last year at age of 59 at Turnberry.
It has been two decades since an Englishman — Sir Nick Faldo — held aloft the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 1992.He did that twice earlier in 1987 and 1990 (at St. Andrews).
More than an eighth of the total field this week at St. Andrews are English — 21 of the 156 — and four of the world’s top-10 and five of the top-20 are English. Faldo says this could be the year of the English.
Ian Poulter was the runner-up at the 2008 Open, Lee Westwood came one shot short of joining eventual winner, Americans Cink and Watson in the play-off last year while Donald was fifth. A year earlier Casey was seventh.
Add to these four, Justin Rose, who in Birkdale at the 1998 Open promised so much for English golf, with his fourth place as an amateur. But he has begun to make a move only recently with two wins in the U.S. If amateur golf is the beginning of a long journey, then Chris Wood did that in 2008 while finishing fifth overall.
What about the Asians, who are still looking for their first Open? There are eight each from Korea and Japan — that is two more than Scotland the country that gave birth to the sport — besides a Thai and a Malaysian.
If numbers are an indication of growing strength, then the Koreans are on the right path. A golfing nation known for its successful women in the sport, they are now making waves in men’s golf.
Ryo Ishikawa, the “Bashful Prince” is among the Japanese.
K.J. Choi is delighted to see a strong Korean presence, especially when he is regarded as the trailblazer. “This shows how far golf in Korea has developed,” said Choi, the first Asian Tour graduate to hit it big in America with seven victories on the US PGA Tour.
Yang Yong-Eun, who last August became the first Asian to win a Major, leads the list which includes Noh Seung-yul, 19, a teenager, who leads the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit after defeating Choi in the Maybank Malaysian Open in March while Kim Kyung-tae, who is four years older, has won once.
Jin Jeong, 20, and the 18-year-old An Byeong-hun are holders of the two most prized amateur titles in the world, the British Amateur Championship and US Amateur Championship, which earned them starts in this week’s field. A third amateur, Eric Chun who made it from the International Final Qualifying (Asia) while the other Korean is Park Jae-bum, who qualified by finishing third in the Mizuno Open in Japan.
Noh, with his father-cum-caddie, Gu-huieun, is also keen to make a strong impact on the international stage.
“I am aiming for a top-20 finish this week, or maybe better,” said Noh, who in his maiden Major was tied 40th at US Open in Pebble Beach.
One other strong Asian challenger could be Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee, who is hoping that a constant supply of Thai food will spice up his game here.
- When India had its golden moment at St. Andrews (Open Diary) - Jul 16, 2010
- Stewart wins play-off, sinks Watson's British Open dream (Roundup) - Jul 20, 2009
- Korean star Choi envisions bright future for Asian golf - Oct 13, 2011
- Tiger loses the plot and roar as Majors elude him - Dec 12, 2009
- Palmer, Watson and Harrington awarded honorary degrees(British Open diary) - Jul 14, 2010
- Failing to sink the clincher, Watson goes into play-off with Cink - Jul 20, 2009
- Korean golf star Choi seeks an elusive major title - Oct 15, 2011
- Cink defeats Watson in play-off to win British Open - Jul 20, 2009
- Strong Indian contingent for Asian amateur golf championship - Sep 26, 2011
- Norman tops 'most influential in Australian golf over past 40 years' list - Oct 13, 2010
- Lahiri aims for double at Panasonic Open - Sep 21, 2011
- A dip into the Valley of Sin for Tiger (British Open Diary) - Jul 15, 2010
- Woods, Bhullar miss the cut; Watson turns the clock back - Jul 18, 2009
- Golfing legend Nicklaus says let 'great golfer' Woods' private life remain private - Jul 14, 2010
- Lee-Anne all geared up for Women's Indian Open golf - Nov 10, 2010
Tags: birkdale, claret jug, fire hydrant, four holes, ian poulter, imponderables, jack nicklaus, krishnaswamy, lee westwood, magic figure, muirfield, nick faldo, padraig harrington, play four, st andrews scotland, stewart cink, swilcan bridge, tearful goodbye, time champion, tom watson