Tiger is casting a long shadow on the Open

Bobby Curran
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Friday - July 18, 2008
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Will this week’s Open Championship have meaning without Tiger Woods? Some players, like No.2 ranked Phil Mickelson, believe that it won’t matter once the Claret Jug is presented. Others, like Ernie Els, believe that while golf will outlast Tiger, whoever wins will be barraged with questions about what would have happened if Tiger had played. Still others, amazed at what they witnessed at Torrey Pines, must be afraid that Tiger will find a way to win without even being there!

Royal Birkdale is the closest to target golf among the Open courses, and Americans tend to play well there. Since Arnold Palmer won there in 1961, only one non-American has hoisted the jug - that was Ian Baker-Finch in 1991. Lee Trevino was victorious in 1971, Johnny Miller in 1976, Tom Watson in 1983 and Mark O’Meara in 1998. The course has undergone some alterations since 1998. It has been lengthened by 155 yards to 7,173 yards. They have removed trees and repositioned greens while putting in 20 bunkers and moving or removing 41 more. But its essential character remains unchanged. Mark O’Meara describes it as a “straight-forward golf course.” Who better, then, to take advantage than Jim Furyk, who was bogey-free two weekends ago at the AT&T and is due for a hot streak?

The recurring thought I have when watching Open Championships - always held in July and often in lousy British weather - is, “Man, I’m glad I don’t live there!” Something about people bunched up in sweaters and anoraks in mid-July. Maybe this weekend will see nice weather in Southern England.

* The NBA summer league is under way and Derrick Low is getting some minutes with the Dallas Mavericks. Entry players like Low have a great opportunity to impress European league management if their NBA dreams don’t work out. Also, former Rainbow Warrior Matt Lojeski is playing with the Milwaukee Bucks team. Lojeski led his Belgian team in scoring with 15 points and chipped in five boards per game. Carl English led his team in the Grand Canary league in Spain - considered the best league in the world outside the NBA - with 15.2 points per game. As good as those players are, they’re just a little short of playing in the NBA although they’re making a good living overseas.

* The fabulous offer by UH - along with television partners K-5 and Oceanic 16 - on the Road Warrior package for season ticket-holders has been extended to Aug. 1. Buy a season ticket on or before that date and you’ll enjoy a 65-percent discount. Instead of paying $280 for the package, you’ll get it for $99. That’s the best deal in sports in Hawaii in a long time - maybe ever.

* I’m working on paring down the number of sports I’ll watch in the Beijing Olympics. Last week I ruled out synchronized swimming. This week I’m adding badminton. After all, you have to draw the line somewhere.

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