So I had to jet over to St. Andrews for a top-secret story. Upon arriving in town on Monday morning naturally the first thing I did was wander down to the 18th green of the Old Course, just to breathe in the scene.
Always majestic, the course looks even more impressive now that it’s already framed by towering grandstands for the upcoming Open.
A friend had lined up a game at Crail for that morning but I decided to check in with the starter to see if maybe I could sneak out late in the afternoon as a single. Trying hard not to grin, he informed me that I would be 46th on the waiting list. The first man had queued that morning at 3:40, and by the time the starter began taking names at half-past six there were already two dozen hopefuls waiting in the cold.
My disappointment was tempered by admiration. No place in the world will give you golfing fever quite like St. Andrews, and I salute those whose affliction is even more acute than my own.
1. Chris Kirk. That’s now four career wins for the criminally underrated Kirk, or, put another way, more than Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka or just about any other young gun you can throw out there.
2. Byeong-Hun An. Benny put on the jets in winning the Euro tour’s flagship event, a long-overdue first pro victory for the 2009 U.S. Amateur champ. Another win or two and we can add him to the list of guys who have won almost as much as Chris Kirk.
3. Colin Montgomerie. No, it’s not in any way a major, but defending his title at the Senior PGA is a pretty nice accomplishment for this quasi-late bloomer.
4. Mark Calcavecchia. He helped redefine the modern game as an early adopter of the bomb-and-gouge playing style. Now he’s taking club breaking to a whole new level, trashing two sticks on the very same hole. That’s our Calc.
5. Jordan Spieth. He thrilled the homefolks with a strong run at yet another win. His game’s floor is most everybody else’s ceiling.
1. Wentworth. Once a grand dame of English golf, this course has been disfigured by countless plastic surgeries, and now there’s talk of another round. Maybe the BMW PGA Championship should just move to TPC Sawgrass?
2. Poults. Once again he was in a great position to win but came up short, this time suffering a four-putt on Saturday and then playing the final 14 holes on Sunday in +1 while everybody else was making birdies. What do you get for the man who has everything? A coupla wins would be a lovely start.
3. Francesco Molinari. He led after each of the first three rounds at Wentworth but on Sunday he made five bogies and a double to tumble down the leaderboard. How do you say “throwing up on myself” in Italian?
4. Concession Golf Club. The setup for this week’s Women’s NCAA championships is absurdly difficult. Memo to the big egos at this ultra-private club: you’re not hosting the U.S. Women’s Open – let the women play.
5. Brian Henninger. Tied for the lead late in the first round of the Senior PGA, Henny hit a cold shank on national TV. If that wasn’t bad enough, it landed in a lake. Henninger pieced himself back together to finish fourth but oh what might have been – in addition to the hosel rocket he made an 8, a 7 and two 6s.