Observations on The Open Championship


Darren Clarke, Open Champion (Robert Beck / SI)

A great championship gave us a great champion.  Darren Clarke from Northern Ireland.  Much has been written about him and the twists and turns his life has taken.  Here’s the piece from the Belfast Telegraph.  He’s the third Ulsterman to win a major out of the last six, which is extraordinary.

Phil Mickelson has lots of golf left in him.  He finished second and shot a 30 on the front nine before fading over the final nine.  It was good to see him do well and to see him enjoying it, too.

I love watching golfers having fun as they’re playing.  Miguel Angel Jimenez made quite an impression with his warm-up.  He’s a total clown and seems to have a seriously great time playing golf.  He hit one of the most amazing shots of the tournament last year in St. Andrews

Phil, too, was laughing and joking around as he played his round with Anthony Kim, and was messing around with Jimenez on the practice tee before the final round.  Darren Clarke played with Dustin Johnson on Sunday and they were chatting, laughing, and walking together the whole round.  This is so refreshing.  When Tiger Woods is in contention, it’s riveting, but he doesn’t seem to enjoy the game, and is always blowing up when things don’t go just right for him.  It’s just nice to watch guys out there having a good time.

There is nothing like listening to the inimitable Peter Alliss.  ESPN is continuing ABC’s policy of welcoming Alliss to offer comment during Sunday’s play and it was a delight.  It was nice to have him alongside the ESPN guys, but there’s nothing like watching golf, especially the Open, on the BBC.  There are very few commercials and Alliss doesn’t really describe the action so much as he gathers and narrates the entire British golf scene.  You feel like it’s just you and Peter Alliss sitting in a pub watching the golf on the telly.  He’ll say things like, “That’s a real thump, that is, and he’ll like that one, as I suspect will Andrew Wilson, who’s watching with his wife Gloria while nipping at a pint at the pub in Whitby.  Who can forget Andrew’s 5-wood from 187 yards out in a howling gale on the 18th to within 4 feet to win the junior championship back in 1958?  Andrew could really lash it.  He’s retired now and his son Ian is the head professional at the club in Colchester, a lovely parklands layout with a gorgeous shepherd’s pie in the clubhouse.”

This sort of thing is constant.  He’s a brilliant story-teller and an understated commentator.

There is simply no one like him.  If there were a school for sportscasters, it would consist of listening to Peter Alliss doing the last twenty-five Open Championships and Vin Scully doing a season’s worth of Dodgers games.

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