Heroes & Zeros: Alan Shipnuck on the Week's Best and Worst
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling grandly slammed. We were *this* close to Jordan Spieth taking the first three legs of the Slam to the PGA. It woulda been epic. How long will Spieth, and the rest of us, be haunted by that errant putt on the Road Hole and the babied wedge on 18? Well, Jack Nicklaus told me last year that he still replays some of the shots from the closing holes of the 1972 British Open, where he finished second by a stroke, ending his own bid at the Grand Slam. This is still gonna hurt in 2058? Sigh.
1. Zach. To play the first 10 holes in 6 under was spectacular stuff. To bury a do-or-die 25-footer on the 72nd green? Legendary. In the modern era, no player has done more with less.
2. Jordan. Even with a balky putter, this relentless kid played his heart out, pushing the sport to greater heights. And he displayed Nicklausian class in defeat.
3. Marc Leishman. For 15 holes on Sunday, he was by far the best player on the course, but the closer you get to the finish line, the tougher it becomes. Still, this likeable Aussie with a moving backstory cemented his standing as a fan favorite.
4. St. Andrews. There’s simply no place on the planet that’s even close to this charming town when it comes to hosting a big-time golf tournament. I’m pretty sure the fans had as much fun at the pubs and betting parlors during the weather delays as they did watching golf.
5. The Old Course. The majesty of the 18th hole is unmatched, the greens are endlessly fascinating, the heaving fairways are a treasure, the views spectacular. The Home of Golf is a special place.
1. The Old Course. Sad to say, it has gotten much too short to provide a true championship test. The long hitters can reach both par-5s and up to four par-4s, and even medium-length players have flip wedges into half the holes. Speeding up the greens clearly isn’t the answer, as wind delays in the last three Opens have shown. It’s not the course’s fault the R&A has let equipment for the pros get out of control, but the Old Course is the saddest casualty.
2. Dustin. He was the biggest enigma in golf even before the double whammy at both Opens. Will he ever learn how to close? Time is no longer on DJ’s side -- he’s 31; Tiger won his last major at 32.
3. Louis. Nobody makes the game look easier, but Oosthuizen has now lost playoffs at Augusta National and the Old Course. That’s how fine the line is between being remembered as a really good player or an all-time great.
4. Sergio. It’s gotten to the point now that when he is in contention on Sunday at a major the only question is when and how, not if, he’ll implode.
5. Jason Day. You gotta love that he keeps putting his neck on the chopping block, but at some point all the near-misses become corrosive. Leaving that 72nd hole putt short was brutal.