Sometimes it takes is a trip back to the birthplace of golf to remind everyone of the game and what makes it so great.
The 150th Open Championship, played in pristine conditions last week at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, delivered a gentle reminder of why people are driven to play and watch golf.
The golfing gods allowed the competitors and the fans in attendance to savor this historic anniversary without the usual cold, wind and rain. The players could use their imagination and skill to tackle the course with its pot bunkers and gorse that are symbols of links golf, in particular in the annual Open Championship. While the Mullet Man Cam Smith (Titleist Pro V1x) prevailed by one stroke, the big winner was the event.
Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS) came to play, knowing it was likely his final time at St. Andrews because his 46-year-old body has absorbed too much damage. The event usually happens there once every five years, which would mean Woods would be over 50 the next time it comes back to St. Andrews. He didn’t make the cut this year and it’s hard to believe he could improve upon that, particularly if the conditions are not so kind and with the young guns driving the ball with the same power and proficiency that he did in his 20s.
As he walked towards the 18th hole on Friday, the crowd gave him a warm ovation and he emotionally came undone. It was like this was the great goodbye.
And then there was Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x), clearly the crowd favorite throughout the tournament. Though he slipped to third, he gave it all he could. The reality was he ran up against Smith and Cam Young (Titleist Pro V1), both of whom finished the final round with scintillating scores. Clearly, this was a Cam Squared finish.
What is interesting is that though the tournament may have created another reminder of the battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, it didn’t play a factor in the finish. Dustin Johnson (TaylorMade TP5x) and Bryson DeChambeau (now no longer affiliated with Bridgestone) were the only LIV players to finish in the top-10.
If a LIV player had won the tournament, it would have created too much of a talking point.
So, while the Open Championship had a political battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, the end result proved the game and a historic course are far more important than warring political factions.
The game is in good hands as long as the top, young players decide to stick with the PGA Tour, which clearly needed to react to the LIV incursion. There will be more money available in the future on the PGA Tour for the players that stick with it. There will be more defections from the PGA Tour, but at least one premier golfer, Sergio Garcia (TaylorMade TP5X) has realized his defection has come at a price. Garcia said he intends to quit the European-based DP World Tour because he isn’t feeling loved by the European Tour. The PGA Tour and DP Tour have aligned together, hence Garcia’s unhappiness. Henrik Stenson (Titleist Pro V1) is the latest golfer to join LIV Golf and has been stripped of his Ryder Cup captaincy.
Golf, in its purest form, should not be about money or politics, but that’s what is has become.
It’s really too bad.