Tiger! Stevie! Muirfield! This British Open final round has everything
GULLANE, Scotland -- This third-round game story is brought to you by Fuse. On Sunday, Tiger will look to win his first major in five years, and his first with the word Fuse on the side of his golf bag. Nobody knows what it is, but it's all good. Fuse!
This reference to the 54-hole leader, Lee Westwood of England, is sponsored by the Stan Utley Putting Schools. If the Worksop Wonder could putt like Stan Utley, he'd be leading this 142nd British Open by six, and not two. Stan Utley!
And how about those blue-coats at the R&A? Do the gents know how to stage a golf tournament or what? Look at this leaderboard: Westwood, leading by a pair over Woods and Hunter Mahan, another grill room contender for the title of BPNTHWAM. Chasing that threesome, who are the three players under par, are Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson, to name just your former major winners who are within five of the lead. Majors. TW (he noted in his post-round press conference) has 14 of 'em!
(Lee Westwood, he noted gallantly, "has won tournaments all over the world.")
While we're at it, a shout-out to our host this week, the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, custodians of the fabulous, wind-swept, sun-kissed, almost unplayable Muirfield links, where the hay is long, the greens are slow, the fairway turf is bone-dry and bone-colored and the bar, always, is open. Muirfield!
And for you Statesiders who are pulling the Sunday tee times off the R&A website, here's a little conversion help: when they say that Westwood and Mahan (two Ping men) are in the final game of the day at 2:10 p.m., that's 6:10 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time, or 9:10 a.m. in Bristol, Conn. (Scott and Woods, with their mirror-image swings, go off in the second-to-last group at 2 p.m., Greenwich Mean Time. The Open on ESPN. Peter Alliss giving shortbread recipes on national TV. Peter Alliss!
Regarding that penultimate pairing: Tiger Woods has won all 14 of his majors while playing in the last group. Does past performance predict future results, as those investment gurus always reminds us? Well, there's a first time for everything, of course. And, as you no doubt know, Tiger's rounds this week are 69, 71 and 72 (on a par-71 that has played progressively harder). Past performance. Charles Schwab!
That two o'clock game will bring together Steve Williams, who caddies for Adam Scott, and Woods once again. Stevie and Tiger won 13 majors together, and since their breakup Williams has one major (at Augusta in April with Scott) and Woods has none. Steve Williams races Valvoline. Tiger Woods is powered by Fuse. Fuse -- it's not just for electricians anymore!
And speaking of traditional blue-collar professions, 49-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez, a.k.a. The Mechanic, your leader through 36 holes, went for 77 on Saturday and now is going to have to play well just to finish as Low Spaniard. Sergio Garcia, another candidate for Best Player Never To Have Won a Major, is also at 216 and Rafael Cabrera-Bello is a shot behind them. Ferrari. Miguel would maybe fix yours if you owned one and if he wasn't too busy working on his own collection of the sporty Italian race cars. Ferrari!
Lee Westwood is an owner of race horses, including one called "Hoof It," and a sardonic British wit he displays with some regularity. Asked Saturday night about his evening plans and what he might do to take his mind off his "high-pressure situation," the leader said, "Actually I'm not in a high-pressure situation, because I'm going to have dinner and I'm so good with a knife and fork now that I don't feel any pressure at all." This bit of humor from a man who hit driver off the deck for his second shot on the par-5 fifth, where he made eagle. Humor. Decks. McHale's Navy. Nick at Nite!
The instructor Sean Foley works with all three players who are under par -- Woods, Mahan and Westwood -- and they all seem to "cover the ball," to use a phrase for which Brandel Chamblee should have secured copyright protection. Sean Foley is a fan of The Roots. The Roots cover of "Let It Be" is one of the great moments in pop music. And Lee Westwood, who has had a half-dozen genuine chances to win majors, seems to get it, the whole thing, about as well as anybody. If he never wins a major, he said yesterday, "It's not the end of the world." Lennon and McCartney!
Tiger Woods has never won a major when he was not in the last group of the day. Have we mentioned that? He has not won a major with Fuse on his bag, or with Sean Foley teaching him, or since he ran over a fire hydrant. At a press conference some years ago, Tiger Woods said, "It's not what you achieve in life that matters, it's what you overcome." He has a very tall order on Sunday, and not just making up the two shots by which he trails Lee Westwood. Tiger Woods has a chance to become, again, the Champion Golfer of the Year. Tiger Woods.