In the world of professional golf, two new faces, a rising star, and an old runnerup arose to the top to win exciting tournaments yesterday.
Little-known American Mo Martin won the Women’s British Open at famed Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. Although a short hitter, on the last hole of the tournament, the par-five eighteenth hole, 31-year-old Ms. Martin smashed her second shot and it hit the pin, stopping six feet from the hole. She made the putt for an eagle to win by one stroke. It was the greatest shot of her career. She afterwards said, “I think I still need to be pinched.” Why? It was her first win in pro golf, her 64th LPGA tournament, and a major championship. It took her six years to even get on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour in the U.S.
Left-handed Brian Harman also won his first PGA Tour tournament–the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run at Silvis, Illinois. He also won by one stroke, warding off the charging, defending champion Zach Johnson (eleven-time PGA Tour winner and Masters champion) by one stroke and the faltering Steve Stricker, who won this tournament in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Harman appeared so relaxed and in total control of his game in the closing holes. You would have thought he was only playing with a $5 Nassau on the line with his buddies at home in Georgia. He bombed his tee shots right down the middle of the fairways and punched his irons shots safely on the greens, with some of them close to the hole.
Rising star Justin Rose of England won the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Aberdeen, Scotland, by two strokes. It was a tune-up for the British Open this week. Last year, Justin bested Phil Mickelson by one stroke to win the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club for his first major. Two weeks ago, he won the PGA Tour tournament Quicken Loans National at Congressional CC in Bethesda, Maryland. Rose is now ranked third in the world in Sony rankings. So, he is primed for the British Open this week at Hoylake. Phil Mickelson will be the defending champion.
Finally, there is the blond, old Scottish guy who never could win a major and kept finishing second in them. He’s a guy with whom American pro golf fans have a love-hate relationship. He’s the colorful, talkative, and articulate Colin Montgomerie. He beat Gene Saunders in a playoff to win the PGA Senior Championship at the tough Oak Tree National Golf Club in Edmonton, Oklahoma. It was his second major win on the Champions Tour, having won the last senior major–the U.S. Senior Open last year. Although Colin couldn’t win majors in his youth, now that he’s over the hill he’s making up for lost time by cleaning up on the old guys’ circuit.
Where’s Tiger Woods in all of this. This week he’ll play his second tournament since back surgery–the British Open. What are his chances? Not good. Former major tournament winners and now TV telecasters, Paul Azinger and Curtis, were interviewed about Tiger chances. Both say Tiger’s constant quest for swing improvement has been a disaster, with which I completely concur and have been writing about in this blog occasionally. Azinger is right on, going into detail. It’s a must read for serious golfers.
Looking forward to watching the British Open. But anymore, I’m mostly an armchair quarterback glued to the TV.