Ernie Els Ends Dry Spell
By Tom Ward
This year’s 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s in England was chock full of surprises. First, The course isn’t your typical Open championship venue. It’s the only course on the rotation of host clubs which begins with a par-3. Next, The weather cooperated as the conditions were quite mild( sunny & warm) compared to what the players are usually have to battle with( cold, windy & rainy)to win the claret jug. Then, Ernie Els seemingly comes out of nowhere to capture the title snagging it away from Adam Scott. The resurgent Tiger Woods seemed primed to win another major until he hit his ball into the bunker on the 6th hole in the final round and took a deflating triple bogey to dash his hopes. American Brandt Snedecker got off to a hot start for the first two rounds tying an Open record for 36 holes. However, On the weekend he proceeded to give most of those shots back and finished in a respectable 3rd place tie with Woods.
The TV ratings were a lot higher this year because Tiger was in the hunt. He still doesn’t have his driver under control and hit a lot of irons off the tee to maneuver around the tricky course that has 205 bunkers strategically placed to grab any wayward shot. This course really penalized players who landed in those deep pot bunkers. Adam Scott from Australia looked like he was going to get his first major win and hoist the prestigious trophy. He had a nice lead going into the final round that is until he hit a few shots off-line on the back nine and his putter got too balky missing some crucial putts down the stretch. Scott bogeyed the final 4 holes and left the door open for a surging Ernie Els to snatch the Claret Jug away. It was a combination of Els shooting 4 under on the final 9 holes and Scott’s meltdown that changed the outcome. Ernie Els did his part to put the pressure on Scott to make sure he didn’t just have a leisurely stroll to the title. In the end, Ernie won it with a dramatic birdie putt on the 18th hole that turned out to be the difference. It’s Els second Open win and he joins the rare company of players to have won 2 British & U.S. Open Championships. Next year the Open championship will be played at Muirfield in Scotland. The final major of the year is the PGA Championship which is being held at Kiawah island later this month. Keegan Bradley will try to defend his title. His aunt is LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley who lives in Southlake. I’ll be heading to Chicago in September for the Ryder Cup which is being played at one of my favorite courses Medinah Country club. In the end it was nice to see Ernie Els end his dry spell and get another big win under his belt.
Tom Ward can be reached at www.teetimewithtom.com