This year’s British Open returns to its virtual birthplace at the Royal and
Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews, at the Old Course. I’ve played the virtual
course many times over in years past, and feel pretty familiar with the
course. I’m looking forward to this, seeing how the best players in the
world handle the changing weather and the unique placement of sand traps. I
love Hole O’Cross and Long (holes 5 and 14) for both their length, angles
and for its hit and miss traps. 17, the Road hole, is arguably the most
famous par 4 of them all, and for good reason. You have to skillfully get
the ball off tee over a slight wall into a narrow fairway, then choose from
one of two angles depending on the flagstick. One takes you in the path of
a humongous bunker, the other puts the road itself into play, which is out
of bounds. Par is quite good there. Continuing my theme of ranking
golfers on ball striking and scrambling, here is my British Open foursome:
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA 2/25/92 makes his debut at the Old Course, qualifying via
his #14 rank. 16 of 17 cuts made this year, 8 top 10s, no wins. Lifetime:
44 of 52 cuts made, 14 top 10s, 1 win. A rather impressive record for this
23YO. And it gets better: made 10 of 11cuts in majors, with 3 top 10s, and 1
top 5. 3rd British Open appearance. Top 10 in these stats: 9th in greens in
regulation, 5th in strokes gained total, holes per eagle, total driving,
all-around, approaches 100-125, 175-200, proximity to hole from sand, par 4
scoring, final round performance.
Good cycles for pure physicality and passion, but little else to show for
it. Overall a rather mixed bag. He’s quite prone to making mental errors.
Round 3, if he gets here will see him appear oft-kilter physically.
JORDAN SPIETH 7/27/93 can possibly win his 3rd straight major. He qualifies
via his #2 ranking. 16 of 18 cuts made this year, 11 top 10s, 4 wins
including the 2 majors. Lifetime: 63 of 76 cuts made, 28 top 10s, 5 wins.
First appearance at the Old Course. Top 10s: Strokes gained (total), scoring
average, all-around, rough proximity, approaches 200-225, 150-175, 50-125,
100-125, 75-100, putting average, par breakers, round 2 and 3 scoring, par 3
and 4 scoring.
Rather negative outlook for the 2-major champ.His mental and intuitive
acumen are very strong here. Awareness couldn’t be any better.But he’s
lacking in the physical strength necessary as well as his emotional makeup.
The passion is just not there. Even if he somehow survives the cut he’s got
a physical critical to deal with in Round 3.
DANIEL BERGER 4/7/93 qualified as one of the alternates so as to help fill
out the field of 156. Currently #78 in the world, he makes just his 2nd
major appearance and first at the British Open. No prior appearances at St.
Andrews. This is his first full year on the PGA tour, after a year on the
lower Web.com circuit. Lifetime 15 cuts made of 24,with 10 top 25s, 5 top
10s, no wins. Top 10s on the tour this year in these categories: Approaches
200-225 yards, all approaches over 200, longest hole outs in yards, back 9
This is an example of his magic in a big rookie season:
Mental/emotional game very shaky for Daniel, prone to making quirky
decisions and mouth off some. No real passion, tho his intuition may
actually bail him out. Don’t expect to see him on the weekend.
BUBBA WATSON 11/5/78, #3 in the world, qualified via his ranking.
7th appearance at the Open, making just 3 prior cuts. This year, 10 of 11
cuts made, 5 top 10s, 2 wins. Lifetime: 158 of 224 cuts, 43 top 10s, 8
wins, including the Masters twice. In his lone St. Andrews appearance in
2010 he went 74-73, missing the cut by one shot. He would card double
bogeys on both rounds at the 17th, plus bogeys on the 15th. Maybe he could
Top 10s: Driving distance, strokes gained (total), holes per eagle, birdie
and scoring average, clubhead speed, going for the green, approaches from
225-250 and 125-150, overall putting, round 1 and front 9 scoring, par 5s,
Tough cycles for Bubba, very sluggish and feeling rather down. Not much for
his intuition either.His awareness is keen, but he’s not going to feel
especially plugged in for this tournament. Passion is way down.
Between these 4 I actually rank Matsuyama the best.