The 2010 British Open: What was learnt at St Andrews?

By Ron Furlong
Louis Oosthuizen(Photo: Marie Guilpin)

Louis Oosthuizen

We learnt a few things at the British Open this past weekend.

One, the old course is still the grand old lady. Although she lost her bite when the winds died down on Thursday, she recovered quickly. The oldest course is still the best around.

Two, after burying the field and winning by seven strokes, we all learned how to pronounce the name Louis Oosthuizen. Well, sort of.

Three, we discovered that the world’s top two golfers can be as ordinary as any two guys in the field. Neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson ever looked like they were going to contend over the weekend.

Woods ended up in a tie for 23rd, and Mickelson in a tie for 48th. Neither looked great, neither looked bad. They both looked, well, average.

With three majors in the books for the year and only the PGA Championship remaining next month, it is starting to look like 2010 will be remembered as the year of parity.

This is especially true in the USA, where on the PGA Tour no one has won more than twice (Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Justin Rose have managed the feat).

This is undoubtedly partly due to the demise of Tiger Woods, even if does prove temporary.

Even ardent Woods supporters have to admit that something has changed about the world’s best golfer.

He has lost something. An edge? Concentration? The killer instinct? Whatever it is, it has resulted in a wide open field going into almost every golf event.

And world number two Phil Mickelson is not doing his part in grabbing hold of the game.

It is there for the taking, and has been all year, but every time we think Mickelson will step up and fill Woods’ shoes, Lefty falls back into the shadows.

It is beginning to appear as though Mickelson, as great as he can be sometimes, is not mentally wired to be the world’s best golfer. He is a great number two, though.

So who is the favorite heading into the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in August?

Woods? Mickelson? How about Lee Westwood? Despite an annoying muscle problem in his leg Westwood had another second-place finish at a major this year at St Andrews—his second second. Last year he had two thirds.

What about Justin Rose? Louis Oosthuizen? It’s safe to safe the field is wide open.

Perhaps the only bright light on the horizon is that fact that this is a Ryder Cup year.

In early October the competition takes place at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. And in this year where no individual golfers are excelling, perhaps it is an exciting team competition that can save the golf’s 2010.

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