Onward to Whistling Straits

It’s Johnson, Z. Johnson, the playoff winner, the Champion Golfer of the Year, and that’s okay. What’s not okay over the last two days is I haven’t been able to get up stupidly early to watch The Open Championship on television from St Andrews.

Now, what’s left is the PGA Championship, last and least among the four most, and it’s at Whistling Straits, which promises to be a wicked good test. But it’s not The Open, and it’s sure not St Andrews.

Global Golf Calendar

This week in golf

Western Amputee Golf Association
 July 25-26: 15th Western Amputee Golf Tournament, River Bend Golf Course, Kent, Wash.

The Royal and Ancient
July 23-26: The Senior Open Championship, Sunningdale Old Course, Berkshire, England

LPGA
July 23-26: Meijer LPGA Classic, Blythefield Country Club, Grand Rapids, Mich.

PGA Tour
July 23-26: RBC Canadian Open, Glen Abbey Golf Club, Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Out there

PGA Tour
Aug. 13-16: The PGA Championship, Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, Wisc.

Grey Goatee Golf Association (3GA) Tour
Aug. 15: Tour Stop 5, Riverside Golf Course, Chehalis, Wash.

National Amputee Golf Association
Sept. 14-18: 67th National Amputee and 26th National Senior Amputee Championships, Bent Brook Golf Course, Birmingham, Al.

Play on

7:03 p.m. St Andrews time (11:03 a.m. PDT)

A four-hole aggregate playoff — 1. 2, 17 and 18, low score wins. Oosthuizen, Leishman, Z. Johnson … none of those guys is named Spieth. Oosthuizen hit the putt he needed to get in, Spieth did not.

Ian McShane said, “Let’s play some more. There’s still daylight left.”

Still some drama

Spieth hit wedge into the bagpipes on 18, and he landed short with a long and gnarly putt for the birdie he needed to get into a playoff. He missed, and Jason Day missed his birdie putt, so unless Oosthuizen comes home with a birdie on 18, Leishman and Z. Johnson are in a playoff.

***

Oosthuizen just hit it close — if he makes his birdie, I predict he wins the three-way playoff. Really.

 

Orange on Monday at the Old Course

6:11 p.m. St Andrews time (10:11 a.m. PDT)

Left The Open in the capable digital hands of the DVR this morning and ventured out for a Dawn Patrol nine at the Old Course Tumwater Valley, the home club of Grey Goatee Nation.

Felt the wind blowing in new weather, necessitating long sleeves in moisture-wicking bright orange under the grey Tumwater-logo polo piped in orange, with orange shorts by Cutter and Buck and an orange glove by Asher.

Golf was almost an afterthought, humbled as I was by the splendid Old Course in the shadow of the old Olympia brewery, walking through the shine and sparkle of the early-morning dew. But I rose to the occasion, a goddamn vision in orange.

***

I returned to The Open TV show to find Marc Leishman picking up where he left off after yeterday’s birdie-fest, leading the golf tournament by two strokes. It was just as I predicted, maybe not right out loud or in digital characters on this page, but I did, really.

Leishman dropped a shot on 16, just in time for Jordan Spieth’s missed birdie attempt at 15. Then Zach Johnson birdied 18 to get in at 15-under, and now he gets to watch and wait. Just like I predicted.

So okay, Spieth just birdied 16. Tied for the lead. I called it.

It’s Monday, of a fashion

1:12 p.m. St Andrews time (5:12 a.m. PDT)

The guy who famously wears red on Sunday is not in contention, and not just because it’s Monday for this fourth round of The Open Championship. The famously astute Grey Goatee Fashion Committee has seen little red these five days, except as an accent on the edges of a profusion of grey in many shades and gradations. Today, it’s round four, and the leader in the color clubhouse and on the course will be black, black on black over black.

So, the committee has already made its choice. It’s not Martin Kaymer, who always contends, and today is wearing black Hugo Boss. No, the Champion Dresser of the Year, also turned out in black, is the old guy: Bernhard Langer, the ever-dapper. It is decreed.

***

Ian McShane’s well-dressed voiceovers are more elegiac on the final day. This, to open: “Do you know what gives a thing true weight? Worth? Meaning? Let me tell you, because I know. Time.”

Time? Who has any today? It’s Monday, and I have a job, of the sort that the bosses-that-be pretty much expect me to be there for. I’ll think of something.

The Open Championship: Bet with confidence

After many hours to digest Sunday’s third round of The Open Championship, I have the definitive answer.

Jordan Spieth will win. You read it here first.

Louis Oosthuizen will win. You read it here first.

The amateur kid will not win.

The safest bet of all might be an investment in Under Armour, which clothes Spieth and Paul Dunne, the amateur kid.

Weather or not

4:47 p.m. St Andrews time (8:47 a.m. PDT)
Short of having Peter Alliss in the booth all the time, we really can’t do much better than the American TV talking heads at The Open Championship, even when they’re just killing time during a weather delay.

Mike Tirico and Paul Azinger, one of the ESPN studio teams, and Sean McDonough and Andy North, the other, are really good.

“All you can do in this great game is control the controllables, and the weather is not one of ‘em,” Azinger said this morning, while the players who didn’t finish their second rounds Friday waited and waited, then got started briefly, then shut down again due to winds reaching 40 mph.

It’s almost 4:45 p.m. in St Andrews, and they’re not playing; the latest word is they won’t get on before 5:30 at the earliest. If they do resume, they’ll only be able to accommodate the remaining players with Friday holes to play — including Dustin Johnson, the leader at 10-under par. The third round will be Sunday, and the final 18 to crown the Champion Golfer of the Year is now scheduled for Monday.

“You’ve got mental toughness at the top of the list to survive this day,” Tirico said to Azinger, and if you’re a viewer who’s been setting the DVR and the coffeepot to “early,” bring it on — we’re mentally tough enough to survive one more day to appreciate it all.

 

 

The Open, Day 2: Will it be Willett?

2:55 p.m. St Andrews time (6:55 a.m. PDT)
He’s making it look easy, Danny Willett is, and he’s the easy story early in this rain-delayed second round at the Old Course. I’m wondering who he is, too. The things you learn when you check in with the crack Grey Goatee research staff (suddenly unavailable) or The Open app on my smartphone (very available): Englishman, 27 years old, ranked 39th in the world, former English Amateur champion, third at this year’s WGC Match Play in San Francisco.

Willett got to minus-10 on a bogey-free card with birdies on 9 and 10 to go three up on Zach Johnson (one-under today) and Dustin Johnson, who hasn’t teed off and won’t for a while.

Clear difference in style between the two Johnsons: Zach, 39, has made a sumptuous living in professional golf ($35.7 million) despite being a short hitter on golf courses that only seem to get longer and still can’t contain the likes of Dustin, the best driver of the ball in golf.

ZJ just got a shot back with a birdie on 13 after a bogey on 12 dropped him to 6-under. He’d love to post a number before DJ, and a kid named Spieth, make their Friday runs.

Leaderboard note: Phil Mickelson’s at 4-under (2-under today) through No. 7. There’s lot of golf to go, and the rain delay dictates some of today will be held tomorrow.

Yanks on the ould sod

7 p.m. St Andrews time (11 a.m. PDT)
Ian McShane was back to open the second TV session of The Open Championship.

“The church burned Protestant reformer Patrick Hamilton at the stake outside the chapel of University of St Andrews. His initials mark the spot,” McShane said, adding that students, nearly 500 years later, avoid treading on the “PH” in the cobblestones lest they fail their final exams.

“Except for these morons,” he said, as the camera showed modern-day feet walking directly over the initials. “Now, they’re probably Yanks.”

***

Yanks were all over the first two pages of the leaderboard in this most international of championships, still led by Dustin Johnson at minus-7. Lots of good players still left on the course, heading into the gloaming.

Rickie Fowler, the Scottish Open champ, in a vibrant blue ensemble, gave a shot back at 13 to drop to even par, but more importantly, he  might be an early leader in the race for Champion Dresser of the Year. Haven’t glimpsed Graeme McDowell yet.

***

McShane again, over video of pints of Belhaven Ale and extra-cold Guinness being poured for golfers in the pub at St Andrews.

“Because hydration is important in the world of sports, you know,” McShane said.

***

Tiger Woods, who didn’t take any kind of advantage of the benign Old Course Thursday, wants thornier conditions tomorrow — if he handles them, and the other players don’t.

“Hopefully the conditions will be tough tomorrow and I can put together a good round and move up the board progressively,” he said.