They're playing the British Open at Carnoustie this year, and that's where I experienced one of the most crushing defeats of my career. In the 1975 British Open, I needed a par on the last hole to tie. Unfortunately, there weren't any leader boards in view, and I thought I needed a birdie to tie. My drive found a fairway bunker and, gambling on my second shot, I left the ball in the bunker. I played out safely from there, but the eventual bogey left me one shot out of the Tom Watson-Jack Newton playoff.Carnoustie is the toughest test on the British Open rota and possibly the hardest course in Europe. It doesn't need the foot-deep rough and narrow fairways that made the 1999 British one of the most infamous tests of all time. If the weather is dry and the wind is blowing, Carnoustie will be all the players can handle and more. The course appears to be fairly wide open, but it's actually very penal. Slightly off-line drives will find bunkers, roll into the rough or present difficult approaches to the greens.
Trends: Origins of the claw grip
The first time I met Tiger Woods was just after I won the 1994 ATT Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. His first words were, "Hey, you still using that claw grip?" See, in winning my last PGA Tour event I'd used a slightly modified version of the grip that Chris DiMarco (left), Mark Calcavecchia and others use today. I'd fought the yips for years and had been looking for something to stop my left hand from flinching during my stroke. It worked great that week. I don't know if players copied my grip, but one thing is for sure: The claw stands as one of the most dramatic innovations in technique in years.
The Champions Tour has had plenty of good players come along during the past 10 years, but the tour has lacked a popular personality to attract spectators.That will change late in 2009, when Fred Couples joins the 50-and-older set. With his power, laid-back personality, good looks and a 54-hole format (which will help his ailing back), Fred is destined to become the biggest senior draw since Arnold Palmer.