are some golf tournaments whose pedigrees demand respect and admiration
for what they contribute to the game's history. These tournaments
test the resolve and skills of the players to a degree that other
contests can't begin to match. Actually, it's a good thing that
the really great golf tournaments don't come around but a few
times each year. Anything beyond the strain evident in those occasional
contests could be so dangerous to the psyches of some players
that they might very well have short golf careers.
The world's golf season doesn't begin until the
Masters Tournament opens play at Augusta National in the first
week of April. Until that time of year, golf tournaments have
been fun to watch and even seemed to illuminate which players
were mastering their craft to really compete for the famed Green
Jacket. It's when the Saturday round is over, and the field has
shaken out to leave a few who have a chance to take the Masters
title, that the real contest begins. And it isn't on the golf
course. It's in the players' minds where the real struggle takes
place. It's Greg Norman in 1996 watching a six-shot lead on Sunday
give way to the steady play of Nick Faldo. It's Scotsman Sandy
Lyle serving haggis at the Champions' dinner in 1989. It's Tiger
Woods winning his first Masters and crying on his father's shoulder
after dropping his last putt. It's just the Masters.
Next on the list of great tournaments is the
U.S. Open Championship. It’s held at various golf courses
in America, and is known for how difficult the USGA can set a
course for play. The real rough begins at two inches, a little
further in it’s four inches, and beyond that even a hay
mower would have trouble getting through it. U.S. Open officials
don't like their tournament being roughed up by par breaking players.
On Sunday, the pin placements are in their toughest positions
and the greens are slick as glass.
Proof that golf can affect a person's outlook
on life occurred in 1958, when fiery-tempered Tommy Bolt abandoned
his lifelong gripe with the world and kept his cool. He won the
Open at Southern Hills, and soon returned to throwing clubs and
generally making himself a royal pain. That same U.S. Open saw
18-year-old Jack Nicklaus compete and make the cut for the first
time. He did somewhat better in other Opens.
The Open Championship, a.k.a. the British Open,
is a July event. It has been around since 1860, and, by some minds,
is the greatest tournament of them all. That could have merit
because some of America's best players realized their careers
would never be complete until they took a shot at the Open. However
it fits your great tournament list, The Open Championship deserves
as high a ranking as you can muster.
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