Hot this week? Louie and St. Andrews. Not? Rory, Tiger and Phil

Tuesday July 20th, 2010
Phil Mickelson and the rest of the Americans disappointed at St. Andrews.
Robert Beck/SI

HOT
1. Louis. The biggest of the big have won an Open on the Old Course, and this amiable South African turned in as spectacular a performance as any of these legends. Will he be a force or a fluke? That's a question for another day. Let's give the little guy his due on an absolutely spectacular performance.

2. The Old Course. It's way too short and wide open for the modern game, and yet with a wee breeze this jewel remains a relevant, exciting and endlessly interesting tournament venue.

3. Matt Bettencourt. Meanwhile, in Reno, this low-key veteran earned the first win of his career with some gutsy play down the stretch. And did you get a peek at Mrs. Bettencourt?

4. Rickie Fowler. He was a bit overwhelmed in his first-ever Open round, shooting a 79, but he rallied with rounds of 67-71-67 to claw his way to 14th and signal that he'll be a big-time contender for the next two decades.

5. Sergio. He was the darling of the tabloids, his post-round interviews doubling as therapy sessions about the mental torture of tournament golf, and life in the spotlight. Along the way he discovered some much-need spark between the ropes. Somehow, Garcia is turning into someone to root for.

NOT
1. Ugly Americans. Did that charter from the John Deere crash into the Atlantic? Because it seemed like the Open field was almost entirely devoid of Yanks. Meanwhile, practically the entire Euro Ryder Cup team was on the leaderboard.

2. The R & A. You'd think that after a couple hundred years they'd know it can get a tad windy at St. Andrews. But the lords of the R & A botched the setup by cutting the greens too tight, leading to impossible putting conditions. Also, the rough down the left side of the 17th hole was unplayable and out of character with the rest of the course. Plus, they changed the boundary of the home of golf two days before the tourney began, by removing the O.B. stakes around the 17th tee. And the R & A didn't let fans follow the final group down the 18th fairway, which is only one of the coolest traditions in sports. Otherwise, well-played.

3. Rory McIlroy. He was a combined 16 under during his first, third and fourth rounds. If he coulda battled a little harder during his disastrous 80 on Friday this could have been his Open.

4. Phil. It doesn't matter how many more Masters he wins, his legacy will always be incomplete if he can't get it done at the Open — ours and theirs.

5. Tiger. If he doesn't win the PGA — and there's no reason to think he will — Woods will arrive at Augusta next year nearly three calendar years removed from his last major championship victory, a stunning drought in the prime of his career that includes some of his favorite venues. By then he'll be an old 35, with a bad knee and history of numerous other dings. And he may still be in the middle of a messy divorce. That climb up Mt. Nicklaus is looking steeper and steeper.

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