Nel giorno in cui si celebra la messa in vendita dell’ultimo gioiello di casa Taylormade – il driver M1 -, ecco un post alla scoperta di come lavorano i ragazzi che hanno l’onore – e l’onere – di affinare i … Continua a leggere
… Il vincitore dell’Open Championship 2015: Zach Johnson
E l’attore, più volte candidato all’Oscar Joaquin Phoenix:
Praticamente du gocce d’acqua….
(e adesso attendo serenamente la rivolta del pubblico femminile…)
Seve Ballestreros won in 1988. Zach Johnson in 2015. Not quite the same in terms of charisma and talent, but Open Championships finishing on Mondays share the same kind of pathos, emotions and uncertainty until the end.
Here are my ten bullet points of what this edition of the Open Championship in the home of golf left me. In no particular order.
- Zach Johnson. «I’m humbled. I’m honoured This is beyond surreal». Zach deserved this. I am aware this is a common refrain, nevertheless Zach Johnson is a deserving Open Champion. He is deserving, first and foremost, because he is very respectful of the game he plays, he is respectful of his fellow players on Tour and he’s always very well liked by them. Moreover, not being a long hitter (he is only 164th for driving distance, but he’s 3rd in driving accuracy and, more importantly, 8th in scoring average) he won because his putting and approaching were most of the times spot on. He won because he was the only one in the field to have birdied the 18th hole during the whole 4 (5 in reality) days of Tournament. The birdie putt he sunk on the 72nd hole was huge, and he knew it. Yesterday he started so strong carding a 31 during the first nine and holding on during the second brutal nine holes in St Andrews finishing them with a -1 (-6 total for the round). He’s been utterly consistent during the entire tournament. He started brilliantly the play off making birdies on the first two holes of them and was good in bogey management on the excruciating 17th. And now he as a Claret Jug that can be paired to the Masters won in 2007 and 12 other PGA Tour wins.
- Jordan Spieth. I was concerned that this moment would arrive. We’re already at a point where if he goes to the bathroom he would do it in the classiest, coolest ever possible way. The media churn is becoming almost obsessive and I console myself as it is the same everywhere in the world. I understand the whole thing. I totally see the desperate need to find a quick successor to the declining Tiger Woods. Someone who could be the “face” of the game for the years ahead, especially in a country like United States that has millions of people playing golf, but with a declining number of players like everywhere else in the world. Let me be clear once again: we are talking about a true talent here. Someone who will define the game in the years ahead. Someone who is a true gentleman on the corse and even more outside of it. Someone, as the two of the most prominent Italian golf commentators -Silvio Grappasonni and Massimo Scarpa (two former European Tour pros too) – rightly said during Sky Sport live coverage of the Open, who will have a bigger chance to beat the 18th Jack Nicklaus Major titles than Tiger stuck at 14 (for good, I’m afraid). However, he, like everybody else on this planet, can loose every now and again. That’s what happened in Scotland this week end. Spieth lost the Claret Jug by just an hair: 1 single stroke! The double bogey on the 8th and the missed approach on the 18th made him loose the play off and maybe something more. As I said, Jordan and Rory (McIllroy) will own the game of golf in the years ahead. My feeling, however, is that the first one has a mental toughness the latter hasn’t. I may be wrong, but…
- Louis Oosthuizen. And his blessed hands. The approach on the 18th yesterday, the one that allowed him to birdie the hole and take part to the play off, was a piece of beauty. A piece of golfing art. He’s -31 in his last 8 rounds played at St. Andrews. In two appearances on the Old Course, he won once (in 2010) and lost to the play offs (2015) the other. Surely enough, some critics debate over the fact that with his play off loss at the Masters 2013 (won by Bubba Watson) and his second place at this year US Open, missed chances to add silverware to his palmares are piling up. Maybe he’s lacking a bit of “fist punch” to finish off the competition, but his swing is such a relief to watch for my tired eyes…
- Mark Leishman. Definitely the less sexy among the ones who had a legitimate chance to win the Open Championship. Basically a couple of inches. This was how much his ball passed on the right side of the 17th hole for what would have been an incredible birdie. A birdie that would’ve meant Claret Jug. No play off. A win. Plain and simple. He scored 64 and 66 during the last two rounds at the Open. There has been a moment, yesterday, when three Australians (Him, Scott and Day) were among the top four spots on the leaderboard. He was the last Aussie standing in the end. He was unlucky on the first hole of the play off when he found the ball resting on a fairway divot, forcing him to play for a par, and scoring a bogey. He had his chances, he didn’t catch them. Nevertheless he deserves big credit and respect. He’s not that cool to watch, but has two things that could make him go further in nowadays golf: he drives long and he’s excellent at putting.
- The Amateurs. Niebrugge, Schniederjans, Chesters and Dunne. Rigorously in order of leaderboard. Niebrugge finished tied 6th with -11. The second one was the amateur who went the lowest during the final round (67). Dunne was in the last group starting the Monday and it didn’t happen since 1930 that an amateur had a realistic chance to win a Major. He started tragically bogeying the first two holes, he recovered reaching even par, then he totally fell apart when St Andrews showed its teeth on the back nine. Nevertheless I do not agree with people criticizing his last round. In my humble opinion I consider Paul Dunne one of the best stories of this year Open Championship.
- Dustin Johnson. Bobby Locke was right: «You drive for show and putt for dough». DJ’s 318.2 yards per drive (1st on the PGA Tour) are definitely cool, however they leave him with no Major won in his career, if his putting, short game and, more importantly, his mental one went bonkers when it mattered the most. His double 75 in the last two rounds of the Open didn’t do justice to him. Ok, someone could say that it’s better to end up like this rather than muffing the putt on the 72nd hole at the US Open and miss a chance to go to the play off, but I consider this a loosing mentality. Fact is, anyways, that something is missing for him in order to win the big thing. DJ’s outcome – like Adam Scott one (we’re on it in a moment) and Jason Day’s – tell us one other thing, I think: in a world of bombers, the first three Majors of this season have been won by Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson, two rather short players, with a laser putt, outstanding short game touch, and iron nerves.
- Jason Day. We’re on a slippery slope here. From one side there’s a golfer who deserve the utmost respect for being always in contention when fully healthy. On the flip side, however, the doubt that something’s missing in order to bring home a Major he deserves creeps in. It’s a game of contradictions: he has 9 top ten finishes in his last 10 Majors he took part… and 0 victories. I honestly thought his moment was finally coming. You go check his card yesterday and it’s a huge display of consistency and solid golf. Unfortunately he didn’t go low enough. In some holes, until the 12th at least, he could have done better. He didn’t. Hence the balance in the Majors for him is starting to turn red now. I am still, nonetheless, convinced that his moment will come sooner rather than later.
- The Old Course. The Open Championship to be staged always in St Andrews? Yesterday during Sky Sport Italy live coverage someone brought up this idea and many followed on Twitter and other socials. I vote “yes”, being aware it will never happen. This course is too beautiful. The atmosphere incredible. Too outstanding the relationship between how good were the players and how tough was the course itself and the heritage that the Old Course brings along. Holes 13 to 17 are brutal, and even on a day where the course was playing easy, a lot of strategy, clear ideas, talent, courage and…two big balls were necessary to put together a good score.
- Adam Scott. Adam, God bless, if you start making disasters with the broomstick, then it’s over! Scott was -6 until the 10th, everything looked bright and in control. He looked so poised to have a serious chance to finally win the Claret Jug. Then everything fell apart. Bogey on the par 5 14th, bogey (incredible) on the par 4 15th with a missed tap in, par on the 16th, bogey on the 17th and double bogey on the 18th. I’m doing the math: it’s 5 strokes lost in the last 5 holes (-11 for the tournament and T10 in the end). And then? Right after having squandered his title chances, Steve Williams, his caddie, handed him two golf balls, Scott signed both and gave them to the guys who were bringing the group leaderboards around the course escorting the players. Adam Scott is such a quality guy that you can’t have any bad feelings towards him. As opposite, you (at least I) cheer for him to win another Major before the drama begins… in 2016 (there’s only one remaining, to be brutally honest, Adam…).
- Ivor Robson. Last but not least, they usually say. We go well beyond here. Robson is a legend in his own self. He’s been the official speaker of the Open since 1975. A man who stops drinking from 5pm of the day before so that he avoids to go to the bathroom the next day when he has to spend the entire day announcing players teeing off on the first hole. 18.955 players have been announced by him. Yesterday it was his last day as Open Championship official speaker and players gave him a “present” in going to the play off so that he had to come off again to announce the participants to the extra holes. He’s retiring. With immediate effect. Without Ivor, the Open Championship, the European Tour and golf in general won’t be the same again.