As a general rule, I am against extra work, particularly that of the kind for which I am not paid, but after yesterday’s finish to the British Open, I feel the need to write.
I ask you dear reader, what in the name of all things bright and beautiful was that?
First of all, let’s talk about Carnoustie, which was set up by people who should be put on some kind of medication for the rest of their lives. The reason there were so many odd names on the first couple of pages of the leaderboard was that the course was, to say the least, pretty odd, too. Carnoustie, without a blade of rough, is a magnificent test of golf, and that is an inarguable fact. The way it was set up, with goat-choking weeds and fairways narrower than Adolph Hitler’s mind, it was a test of how much of the Barry Burn you could swallow without throwing up. You are going to read in the next few days a load of crap about the great players in the world, and how they whined about the conditions, but the truth is, they had a very good point. Jack Nicklaus once said that golf wasn’t meant to be fair, but I believe that it wasn’t meant to be stupid either. That last bit was mine, not Jack’s.
You see, in a game filled with variables and uncertainties, there are a few things you can always rely on. Like the fact that the USGA will always screw up the U.S. Open venue — always, and this year was no exception. The reason we had a great U.S. Open was down to the players, not the stage, but that is another story. The R & A, on the other hand, only screws up about once a decade, the last time being 1986 at Turnberry, where a number of players were injured in the rough, including a broken bone (Glenn Ralph).
It was fitting in this farcical situation that the leading man should be French, for surely even Jaques Tati could have won, given a 3-shot cushion on the last tee.
But perhaps not, or if you prefer, peut-etre non, mes amis, for Jean Van de Velde (and the name, ironically, means “John of the fields”) spent most of his week in Scotland hitting the wrong frigging club, in case you hadn’t noticed. He was hitting driver where other people were making tentative passes with their middle irons, so perhaps what appeared to be an incredible brainfart at the last was merely a continuation of the policy that got him there in the first place. Whatever way you look at it, yesterday was a perfect example of why this is the world’s greatest game. What theater. We had a playoff between three people, two of whom felt like they had won the lottery just by being there, and one who had the winning ticket under his beret, but threw his hat in the air by mistake.
Every credit and congratulations to Paul Lawrie, who was in the right place at the right time, and had the skill and courage to take advantage. I think I’m going to vomit now.