It's Day One of the third major championship of the golf season, the British Open. And midway through the day our man Tiger Woods is in......yes, he's tied for 80th place. Old Tom Morris may beat him at this rate. Twenty other golfers are currently at that number so he's one shot from being T98-98th place.
With so many golfers still on the course and with the best conditions in the history of 137 years of Open golf, it's safe to say the world's number one ranked player will end the day closer to the 100th best than first. What must Tiger Woods be thinking as the sun is a few hours from setting along the west coast of Scotland?
The goal for The Human Nike Swoosh is first to make the cut. His untidy round of plus-one 71 left him in a tie for 85th-inconceivable stuff.
That's like the world's faster sprinter spotting the field a five meter head start in a 100 meter race. Or a fifteen point first quarter deficit. Or the Republican's chances of blocking the president's nomination for the Supreme Court. Good luck.
The confident rock solid and fluid swing we saw at the Memorial only nine days ago was AWOL. He's currently en route to the practice range where he'll attempt to rediscover the magic. Maybe he will. Most of the time he does. Discovering a swing thought might be the secret for him to turn it around for the next three rounds. But look at the company in front of him!
TW trails the 59-year old links locksmith Tom Watson by six swats. Not exactly the way to win a tournament where you're an astounding two to one favorite.
His shots wayward and scowls aplenty, Tiger lost his poise one several occasions. Whispered vulgarities were easily read by TV viewing lip readers.
The weather made the course ripe for the taking. The Sun has shone where it never shines. Rain was nowhere to be smelled. Winds left flags drooping. Yet Woods was strolling the fairways-er, the heather, alongside a 17-year old Japanese lad who easily outplayed his idol Tiger will kick himself after not taking advantage of the calmest conditions in memory at an Open.
You know the saying-you can never win on a tournament on the first day but you can sure lose it. I think that will prove to be a truism for my man Woody.
Uncharacteristically, TW declined TNT's request for his standard post round interview. He did take time for the mandatory Q and A with the mass media session but gave them about as much time as it takes him to read, squat and putt a ten-footer.
Capable of a victorious recovery, his biggest fan here says it won't happen and that he's now a shaky 0-3 in the 2009 majors-- hardly a way to make a move toward the ultimate goal of surpassing the record eighteen major wins of Mr. Nicklaus.
With the surgeries adding up and his overwhelming power and distance not as abundant, the pressure that is mounting quite likely will make Tiger's quest of becoming the all-time leader in major wins something much more than a walk in the park. He'll get there. Just not a no-brain twenty five or thirty majors than some robust and hyperbole-prone media spewed out when Tiger was on that incomparable mode that left him holding all four championship trophies at one time.
Current co-leader Tom Watson can compete because he's had so much success across the pond having won five times with the yo9ungsters and three times with the seniors. His not-so-steady putting stroke is less evident on these slower 10 stipmeter greens versus the ungodly 14 stimped greens in the states .He can whack the pellet with authority. Hard fairways allow him to maneuver the ball far enough that length is not a major problem. He admits long and soft courses like Augusta are too much for him these. Days. But not The Open Championship.
The fifty nine year old is amazing in many ways. His free and full, rhythmic swing still clips his Pro V1 crisply, just as it did when he won that incomparable "Duel in the Sun" over Jack Nicklaus in the 66-65 final round Sunday at the '77 Open at Turnberry.
Two months shy of his 60th birthday, Watson said he got a text message from Barbara Nicklaus congratulating him on his day and saying she hoped he'd still be In contention come Sunday. Old Huck Fin might just be there the same way the Senior Tour eligible Greg Norman was exactly one year ago.
If he's in that position-which I seriously doubt-his memories, good vibes and game day adrenaline that would be coursing through his veins will give him a much better chance of pulling off the miracle than did the classy Shark. Tom doesn't flinch down the stretch. Greg did. But given his druthers, I'd bet Norman would be more pleased with his non-flinching wife choice of Chrissie last year than the ill-timed case of the flinches.
Finally...Swashbuckling Sooner Anthony Kim just ended his chances for his first major stumbling to a quad 9 on No. 2. Admirably, he rallied and finished with a birdie on 18 to finish at plus-3 74, but he's toast. Done. Cooked. Thanks for dropping by. Keep in touch. The respected youngster characteristically gambled. But he crapped out with big chips on the table. He'll get there someday. Just not this year.
.....Hopefully as the day goes along and former Cowboys Scott Verplank and Bob Tway sit at Oak Tree National watching and not playing, their former Cowboy All-American Hunter Mahan will avoid nines and keep up his recent good play. He's also very capable. And he surely will be one of the 80-something golfers leading Tiger after round one.
And that's Tiger's biggest problem. Spotting 80-something players at the Open Championship is not the same as spotting the field six shots at the Westwood 4th of July Tournament.
Tiger and Kim get along. Wonder if they'll car-pool it home tonight? Might as well.