Monday, July 20, 2009

The Open

We’ve just arrived in Scotland. I took Sam and a golfer-friend of his Dewi.

On arrival at Prestwick Airport, we headed straight to the British Open. It was the final day of the competition. The two boys, still 16, received free entries.

“Wow – this is enormous,” Dewi kept repeating as he watched star after star pass. Both boys judged the Turnberry links “mythical.” They focused on watching their heroes, first a 16-year old Italian Matteo Manassero, who had played with Sam at the French Boys tournament earlier in the spring . The mere presence of one of their own age group excited them – and so did Manassero's play. The young Italian finished 13th.

The next object of focus for the youngsters was Lee Westwood, the talented English golfer who always sees to fail to quite live up to his abilities. We watched as Westwood drove into the deep rough at hole 10, and stood next to him as he slashed the ball out left of the green. It was sunny but not hot, but Westwood seemed nervous and looked to be sweating. Sure enough, he imploded on the coming holes.

As with the rest of the world, we next turned to Tom Watson, the 59-year old miracle man. He played the smartest golf of the day. While Westwood and the others struck straight at the flag on the par three 16th, only to find their ball roll off the green into a bunker, Watson rolled his ball up close to the pin. He then proceeded to make a magnificent birdie on the 17th.

Everyone knows what happened next . As we watched behind the 18th tee, Watson addressed his ball and said, 'here we go,' smashing a perfect drive. Unfortunately, everyone knows what happened next - Watson's disastrous bogey on the 18th and playoff loss. Even the two boys were moved by the tragic denouement. But the real reason for their trip to Scotland was to play in the Scottish Boys at Ladybank near St. Andrews. Their first practice round was scheduled for early the next morning.

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