The Women’s British Open
There must be something in the German water all of a sudden. For years, the only German golfer any Americans knew was Bernhard Langer. In a distinguished career strung across the PGA Tour, the Ryder Cup and the European Tour, the gentleman’s gentleman seemed a fixture in most weeks’ golf milieu.
And then Martin Kaymer burst onto the scene and eventually ascended to World No. 1 for a brief time. He’s now down to No. 3, but it was a brilliant arc through the galaxy of stars. And it’s not done yet; he’s only 26.
And then, in bleary LA skies, a tall, elegant Sandra Gal stared down Jiyai Shin to win a playoff in the City of Industry. She was not only a great player, she was poised and articulate. And then she managed a T15 at the Nabisco. And while she too hasn’t been as effective of late, she too made her statement. And now that she knows she can win, she’ll win a lot more.
And now comes 22-year-old, Caroline Masson, who leads the Women’s British Open by 2 heading into Sunday’s final round. Her coach of 11 years is Guenter Kessler, Martin Kaymer’s coach. She credits the German Golf Federation too. She was confident in an understated way in her post-round television interview. And claims to have slept just fine on the lead Friday night.
But she will have her work cut out for her on Sunday. She will be paired with Yani Tseng, the current World No. 1 and poster girl for “Let’s go out and have fun today!” as she effortlessly smokes you by 6 shots. Masson knows she’s up against Goliath and one golf writer objectively tweeted that she wasn’t a good bet. But there seemed a certain calm about her, a peace in her face and she quickly answered “yes” when asked if she thought she could win. And that is, of course, why they play the games.
Anthony Kim hurt his wrist badly and had to have surgery. Today’s announcers said his scars are a pretty good legacy of just how bad it was. And for someone who made $4.7 million in 2008, his 2011 has been humbling, missing 8 out of 21 cuts and making just over $900,000.
But he claims to have been working really hard on his comeback and there’s no disappointment in this week so far. He seared a course Phil Mickelson called “brutally difficult” with a bogey-free, 8-under 62 on Saturday. His first two rounds were hold-your-own 1-unders, but that’s typically conservative when you want to make sure you don’t shoot yourself out of the tournament by inopportune gunslinging.
He truly looks like the Anthony Kim of old (except for his long hair, the subject of a bet with his caddie), not only in his golf shots—he hit a spectacular approach shot to about 6 inches—but also in his body language and carriage. After belaboring whether they were going to hit a wedge or a sand wedge, he and his caddie went with the latter. And when it just eked over the front bunker and one-hopped on the fringe, the two of them shared brilliant, knowing smiles over just how close it had come to disaster. “Boy that was close!”
So who will show up Sunday, Anthony the 1-under guy or Anthony the 8-under guy? He’ll be playing with newcomer Scott Stallings who is one stroke back and has his own nice little run going shooting 65, 66, the last two rounds without a bogey in either one. A Q-School grad who finished T11, he did not look or play like a guy who has missed 12 of 20 cuts. He looked more like the guy who finished 3rd in Tampa at the beginning of the year. We’ll see who he shows up as tomorrow.
A stroke back of him are Gary Woodland and Webb Simpson. Woodland was the guy who won Tampa and hits the ball a mile, straight, and Simpson is the guy who has been knocking on the door ever so fervently. But he had some surprises with his driver Saturday and his swing looked quick all day. Jimmy Walker was 1 behind them and shot his own 8-under 62. It should be a grand finale.
The U.S. Senior Open
A couple of weeks ago, Olin Browne was slogging around with his backpack and headset as an on-course commentator, last week he finished T23 in the British Senior Open and this Sunday morning he is leading the U.S. Senior Open by 2 shots shooting 64, 69, 65. Talk about your life flashing before your eyes.
The 3-time winner on the PGA Tour has yet to win in his first three years on the Champions Tour, sort of what you’d expect from a journeyman. Yet here he is at 15-under, on the cusp of the biggest win of his career and leading Mark O’Meara by 2. With 16 wins on the PGA Tour and 2 on the Champions tour, O’Meara will be a formidable opponent on Sunday.
They went eyeball-to-eyeball on Saturday, separated themselves from the field by 4, and now they get to do it again: the journeyman against the aristocrat. It should be quite a day…because the journeyman has proven that he can play.