PGA Tour Confidential: Can Bjorn win?

PGA Tour Confidential: Can Bjorn win?


Every day this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the Open Championship in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Thomas Bjorn made a statement with an opening 65 at the site of his greatest professional disappointment. Can he actually hang on and win this thing?

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: That seems more than a little unlikely. Can’t figure out why he hit the range after shooting 65. Wonder if he saw the other ’03 Open headliner, Ben Curtis (77) out there. I’d rather see Miguel Angel Jimenez win. Wine, cigars and a free perm for everybody!

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Only if he doesn’t hit it in the bunker again on 16 on Sunday. We’ll find out in 52 holes!

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Bjorn has been the picture of inconsistency in recent years. Can’t see him putting together four rounds this week.

David Dusek, deputy editor, It’s too much too ask, too good a story to become a reality. Bjorn was stoic, almost regally self-controlled in his press conference afterward. He’s playing only because Vijay Singh withdrew, and Bjorn had no expectations of shooting a score as good as 65. Tomorrow there will be more expectations and more attention, and I think he’ll lose the lead.

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Bjorn is clearly comfortable at Royal St. George’s, which is not something a lot of guys can say. I could see him sticking around the next three days.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Given what happened in ’03 it’s a great story. For one day. The guy’s a streak player and could, conceivably, stay hot. But don’t count on it.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Just saw a replay of Bjorn tearing up in his presser talking about the passing of his father. He is obviously emotional and clearly inspired as well. That is a good combination for doing great things. I think he can win.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I’m with D. Hack. Well, not literally, because he’s in New York raising three infants and I’m about to sneak out to play some night golf. But I too believe T.B. can win. Of course he can win. Sixty-five with two bogeys? He’s the only person who really knows the course will give you 63, if you do everything right. One super-low round, Friday or Saturday, and he could get himself in position on Sunday to hang on for dear life. Just like last time, but with a different result. A sportswriter can dream, can’t he or she?

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Ask me after tomorrow. It’s going to be a long afternoon, night and morning sitting on that lead, assuming he still has it. Another solid round on Friday, and he just might pull it off.

Wei: Purely on a stats basis, the odds are slim. Since 1975, just five first-round leaders of the Open have managed to pull off the win: Tiger Woods (2005), John Daly (1995), Greg Norman (1993 at Royal St. George’s), Seve Ballesteros (1988) and Tom Watson (1980).

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: I watched Bjorn cooly dispatch Tiger at the Dubai Desert Classic, some years ago. But I also watched him throw away the Scottish Open by filling a lake with tee balls on the final hole. Having seen both sides of Bjorn, I’d flip a coin to decide if he was still capable of winning a major.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Bjorn winning would be too good to be true after what happened eight years earlier.