1. Gerry McIlroy. He has lifetime bragging rights for the greatest golf punt ever, and from his loins came a rightful heir to Eldrick Tont Woods.
2. Lydia Ko. Funny thing is, Rory is not the most gifted prodigy who won last week.
3. Sergio. For 10 holes on Sunday, he made the Open great fun; more remarkable is that the once-mopey Spaniard has become a crowd favorite. But Sergio better pick off a major soon because he’s dangerously close to becoming a lovable loser.
4. Rickie. Three straight top-5s in the majors is pretty stout for a guy in the middle of a swing change. Of course, he probably woulda earned a spot here just for not wearing the orange pants on Sunday.
5. Ben Crane. While a few sissy Americans who were exempt couldn’t withstand the rigors of a first-class flight to play in the game’s oldest championship, Crane couldn’t resist chasing the dream, winging into Hoylake as the first alternate. That the erstwhile Golf Boy spent all Thursday loitering around the first tee and didn’t get in only makes his journey more heroic.
1. Tom Watson. The Europeans look stronger every week, and with Tiger struggling and Phil continuing to spin his wheels, Captain America is going to have the mother of decisions when it comes time to fill out his Ryder Cup team.
2. Curtis Strange. My ears are still bleeding from having to listen to him on the telecast.
3. Dustin Johnson. Five years ago, you would have said he and Rory were the two most talented twentysomethings, but only one of them has gone on to maximize his potential. Hoylake has the easiest set of par-5s in championship golf, yet across four rounds DJ played them with eight pars, a bogey and double, costing himself any chance at victory.
4. The Open’s tradition. An army of yobs disrupted play throughout the tournament with their cell phones and obnoxious shouting on the tee boxes. Then the R&A went soft with a two-tee start on Saturday. Now Ivor Robson is pondering retirement? At this rate, we’re gonna find out the Open is headed to a TPC.
5. Tiger. Realistically, making the cut was a pretty nice accomplishment, though it doesn’t make sense that he peaked on Thursday. Big picture, the bad news for Woods is that even if he can find some form, there is now a neo-Big Three of Rory, Marty and Adam vacuuming up majors, not to mention a lot of other young, talented, hungry players who have absolutely no fear of Tiger anymore. The ascent up Mount Nicklaus gets more daunting every week.