Sunday's Birdies and Bogeys
July 20, 2012
Birdie: Ernie ElsThe "Big Easy" reverted to his old effortless form while everyone around him struggled to break 75. With a dramatic clinching birdie putt on 18, Els' 68 erased a six-shot deficit and gave him his fourth major championship, last winning one 10 years earlier. After some notable near-misses in majors over the last decade, the win came just a month after he nearly won the U.S. Open, showing the 42-year-old -- now wielding a belly putter -- still has plenty of game. "That's why we're out here," Els said. "You win, you lose. It was my time for some reason."
Bogey: Adam ScottPlenty of comparisons have been made this week between Adam Scott and countryman Greg Norman. Unfortunately for Scott, he will now be remembered for his own epic Sunday collapse. In coughing up a four-stoke lead -- he entered the day six strokes ahead of eventual winner Ernie Els -- Scott's collapse will go down in history as one of the most crushing losses in major championship history. He looked so cool all week, right up until the end, when he looked anything but.
Birdie: Adam ScottFew golfers will ever know what it's like to win a major championship, and even fewer will know what it's like to lose in the agonizing, gut-wrenching fashion Adam Scott did on Sunday. The miserable day was only compounded by having to watch the claret jug be awarded to the man he just lost to. But Scott not only handled himself with grace, he conducted every interview with poise, and even offered a few smiles. There is not a person among us who couldn't help but feel sorry for Scott, but he was not one of them, and he's certainly leaving England with more fans than when he arrived.
Bogey: Tiger WoodsSure, his ball nestling up near the wall of one of Royal Lytham's deepest bunkers wasn't the best break in the world, but there were a lot of other things wrong with Woods' performance on Sunday. First, he questionably stuck with his conservative game plan despite never getting within four shots of the lead all day. And even when he continued to play safe off the tee, he found fairway bunkers on Nos. 13 and 14, which led to the first two of three-straight bogeys. A T-3 is nothing to scoff at, but it's not that 15th major title Tiger has been trying to get now for more than four years. While he's clearly figured out the first two rounds of golf's biggest events, his 70-73 finish showed something is still in search of the closing power that was once among his greatest strengths.
Birdie: Royal LythamIt has often been knocked as one of the least-interesting courses in the Open Championship rota, but you can't argue with Royal Lytham's results. Once again, it delivered a fantastic leader board and a very worthy champion. Ernie Els is the latest to add his name to a list that already included the likes of Bobby Jones, Gary Player and Seve Ballesteros. We know at least one player who hopes this tournament returns to Lancashire before he's eligible for the Champions Tour.
Birdie: British Open ConditionsNow this was more like it. There may not have been any rain for a third-straight day, but the wind finally showed up at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. And it was certainly felt -- especially by those teeing off late. Other than Ernie Els, the other seven players in the final four groups combined to shoot 30-over par. It might not have been fun for those on the course, but it certainly made it a dramatic afternoon for fans watching.
Bogey: Graeme McDowellGraeme McDowell had never broken par in the first three rounds of a major until this week at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, but it all came to a screeching halt on Sunday. Unlike his 2010 U.S. Open victory, when he rallied from three shots back, G-Mac never gave his playing partner Adam Scott much to worry about, bogeying the second and sixth holes en route to a front-nine 36 that pretty much ended his Open chances. Then there was that smother hook on the 11th hole to which all amateur golfers can relate. Even with the lead coming back four strokes, McDowell was unable to make up any ground, finishing five-over 75 in a fifth place tie with Luke Donald.
Bogey: Back-to-Back Benchwarming ChampionsTaking nothing away from Webb Simpson or Ernie Els -- both worthy champions -- footage of them keeping limber on the practice green or in the clubhouse is not how we like to imagine a major finish. Of course, both results were close, and in the case of this year's British, decided by a birdie-bogey finish on 18. Still it's hard not to read into the state of the game when Sunday collapses and a plethora of first-time winners are dominating the headlines. Then again, even Tiger Woods hasn't come from behind to win a major, so maybe we should be giving more credit to the guys who do -- regardless of where
Birdie: Luke DonaldAs conditions grew fiercer on Sunday, it was apparent only a world-class ball-striker would be able to piece together a round under par. Donald is just that sort of player, making three birdies against two bogeys on the back nine for a 69 and a back-door T-5. As Donald made his way to the 18th green, his chances of an Open were pretty much dashed, but it was still enough for the Lytham fans to warmly salute one of their own.
Bogey: Luke DonaldWait a second, Luke Donald was in the Open? Sure, Donald played respectably all week, but for a player who is ranked first in the world, it was another week when he was forced to catch up after a slow start. We look forward to the day when Donald walks up the 18th fairway at a major and there's something more on the line that just a big paycheck.
Birdie: Old guysThere is life after 40 for major championship golfers. Just ask Jack Nicklaus, and now, Ernie Els. Els won his first major 18 years ago. His most recent before Sunday was in 2002. Since then he's been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame and struggled to remain at the same elite level. But he's worked his way back now, and it should serve as inspiration for players of his generation like Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, and yes, even Tiger Woods, all of whom might be sensing their major window is closing.
Bogey: Brandt SnedekerAs in back-to-back double bogeys. After clawing to stay at seven under through six holes, Sneds fell victim to several of Royal Lytham's 205 bunkers on holes No. 7 and 8. The resulting doubles dropped him six off the pace, and despite tying his best major championship showing (T-3), he was never a factor again. With the final round feeling more like a British Open than the previous three days, it probably shouldn't be too big of a surprise that he reverted to the player who had never made the cut in his three previous appearances in the game's oldest event.