| ||NOTES || |
| ||The season`s third major championship is on deck and it`s being contested at
the home of golf, The Old Course at St. Andrews. All of the greats have won
there, like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. In fact, the younger of those two
stars has hoisted the claret jug the last two times St. Andrews hosted the
Open Championship in 2000 and 2005. Woods` game is in tatters at the moment.
(Tatters for him anyway.) Phil Mickelson, the Masters champion, can overtake
Woods for the No. 1 spot in the world rankings, but Mickelson`s British Open
record is spotty at best. Last year, the world missed out on probably the
greatest golf story in history. Tom Watson, then 59, held the lead on the
18th hole Sunday in his quest for a sixth Open title. He bogeyed the hole,
appeared to run out of gas and lost a playoff to Stewart Cink. The year
before that, it was 50-year-old Greg Norman who had the lead on Sunday.
Unfortunately, the two-time British Open winner didn`t have it down the
stretch and Padraig Harrington blew by him. Several Europeans not named
Harrington come into this week with some momentum. Ten of the top-20 ranked
players in the world come from Europe, including Harrington. He`s the one of
two European major winners of the group. Will it be a Westwood or a Poulter
or a Rose or a McIlroy to break through? Rose has two wins in a little over a
month, so he makes sense. U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell had a decent
showing at the Scottish Open over the weekend. He could try to win majors at
St. Andrews and Pebble Beach in the same year, much like Tiger in 2000. What
about world No. 4 Steve Stricker? His impressive victory at the John Deere
Classic on Sunday would put him in good shape to make a run at that first
major victory. Perhaps the most famous hole in golf, the Road Hole, 17th at
St. Andrews has been lengthened by almost 40 yards. The hole will now play at
490 yards come Thursday. ESPN and ABC have the coverage all week, including
4:00 a.m. (et) start times on Thursday and Friday. Coverage starts at 7 a.m.
on Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday. Next week on the PGA Tour is the Canadian
Open, which was won last year by Nathan Green. The European Tour features the
Scandinavian Masters, which was captured by Ricardo Gonzalez.