Ernie Els Makes British Open One of the Most Exciting In History

ONE FOR ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS

By James Turnage

As I said I would, I watched as much of The Open as I could. To be very honest, the first three days were rather boring. The great thing about this major tournament is how difficult the play usually is. But the first three days had California coastal conditions. There was virtually no wind at all. The fairways and greens were actually green, and the scores were low.

Sunday the real Open arrived. Royal Lytham and St. Annes features 205 bunkers. Although the wind was not as severe as in most of tournaments past, it was strong enough to bring them into play.

Adam Scott and Ernie Els did not have perfect games, but far outplayed the rest of those in the hunt. Wood, McDowell, and Snedeker all had what could be fairly described as horrible days. Woods’ hopes ended on the par 3 sixth hole when he hit his tee shot into a greenside bunker. His second shot hit the side of the bunker, almost hitting him on the ricochet. He was out of the bunker on his third shot, but far away from the hole. He three putted for a score of six. So ended his hopes of winning the tournament. He had great difficulty all day judging distances on his short irons and putts. McDowell had several bad holes, hitting wayward shots, and once losing his ball, taking him out of contention. Snedeker, who couldn’t miss a putt Friday, could barely make one on Sunday. His play was inconsistent, as it had been on Saturday.

Meanwhile, veteran good guy Ernie Els continued consistent play, and made the final day exciting by attacking the difficult eighteenth hole with his tee shot, and holing an aggressive birdie putt to put him one back of Scott. Scott made a poor shot on his second at the 17th, overshooting the green into the deep rough. He blasted it out, passing the hole by about fifteen feet. He would two putt, putting him in a tie with Els who was in the clubhouse at 7 under par. Scott had lost four strokes in the last three holes.

It all came down to the 18th. Scott hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker. He had to shoot sideways to have any sort of chance to stay tied. His third shot would have to come close to the pin. He hit it within eight feet. His putt slid off to the left, and Ernie had his win.

In the day’s beginning, I almost turned it off to watch “I Love Lucy” re-runs. I’m sure glad I didn’t. I didn’t think anyone could catch Scott on such a difficult day. Mr. Els is not as old as I am, but let’s hear it for one of the good “older” guys in the game, who proved he still had game.

James Turnage

Sun Valley, Nevada

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