I appreciate the British Open more every year. What changed my mind more than anything was finally going to the United Kingdom and Ireland and seeing first-hand what the courses in that part of the world looked like and how differently they played.
Like most Americans, I suspect, I was impressed with the “raw look” once I got over my initial shock of thinking, “These courses look like cow pastures.”
This week’s Open at Royal Liverpool promises to be a good one.
It marks Tiger Woods’ “real” return following back surgery. Woods, by the way, won the last time the Open was played on Royal Liverpool in 2006. I realize much of the shine is gone from Tiger’s game, but he’s still my pick to win.
Phil Mickelson is defending. Rory McIlroy is trying to prove he’s as great as advertised. Adam Scott is trying to justify being the No. 1 player in the world and heal old wounds he suffered at the Open.
But I’ll be pulling for golf’s most unusual character Argentina’s Angel Cabrera.
It’s easy to forget about Cabrera. He got my attention a week ago when he won The Greenbrier Open, his first regular PGA Tour victory. That, of course, reminded me how he also won a Masters and a U.S. Open.
He’s 44 and has been playing for a long time, if not that often. He swings at the ball like he’s trying to kill a rattlesnake but few hit it more solidly or past him. He doesn’t speak much English so you seldom see him on SportsCenter or The Golf Channel.
Some consider him an underachiever because he hasn’t won more often. I think he may be the sport’s greatest overachiever when you consider he grew up dirt poor in a country where only the rich play golf. He started as a caddie and never took a lesson.
He’d still just as soon play in a small tournament in Argentina as a PGA or European Tour event.
If he wins his third major and joins the rarified air on golf’s all-time great I imagine he’ll celebrate by drinking a lot of beer.
If he doesn’t win he’ll probably still drink a lot of beer and simply celebrate life in general.
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