Unlike sports of a fast, furious, flashy nature like professional football and basketball, some sports build their fan bases off of building their legacies as tried-and-true classics. This is certainly the case with baseball, and it’s also part of the reason that golf is still so popular. It is one of those classic games that requires true skill and grace to compete well, and players who do well must have unparalleled mental focus. It also doesn’t hurt that golf is a pretty game to look at, especially on today’s HD TVs, and tournaments like the British Open are a real treat to watch. In this year’s Open Championship, fans not only get to see a beautiful backdrop and classic skill and mental prowess on display; they also get to see a changing of the guard as it were.
Newer, younger stars are starting to emerge on the golf scene today, leaving the old guard behind. In the 144th Open Championship, colloquially called the British Open, fans get to see perhaps the highest concentration of young, evenly matched players in generations. Who will win this year’s title? Last year’s champion Rory Mcllroy had pretty solid golf odds, but unfortunately didn’t end up playing. Other favorites include Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day. Though some big names are noticeably absent from those favorites.
Today’s Contenders and Yesteryear’s Champions
The British Open is actually the oldest of the big-four majors in golf. It’s also the only major played off of US soil. The British Open takes place at St. Andrews in Scotland, and it’s actually a large mash-up of professional tours, including the PGA tour, of course, the European tour, and the Japan Golf tour. This year’s tournament, which seems to be all about the youth, isn’t actually the first time fans have witnessed a dramatic changing of the guard.
In 2000, an aging Jack Nicklaus was playing his farewell tournament at the Open Championship, and as he made it through the tournament and waved at the crowd, a young, up and coming golfer named Tiger Woods was stealing the Golden Bear’s fanfare by playing amazing golf. Jack didn’t win one for the old guard that day, but Tiger Woods did end up breaking the record with -19 to par.
This year’s passing of the torch isn’t nearly that dramatic. What you have are a few older, popular players who are still playing rather well considering, yet they’re simply unable to best today’s youthful players. Tiger Woods, as of the second day of play, is in 140th place, well out of contention for the second cut and well behind his overall game that he’s been known for going on two decades. Tiger’s fall from grace has been a long time coming, and his poor play at the Open Championship just cements his current legacy as a notable golfer and a fan favorite who simply doesn’t win.
Phil Mickelson, currently 24th after two of four days, is in a much better position for the second cut, but he’s out of contention compared to these younger players. Dustin and Zach Johnson, Paul Lawrie, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth – today’s Open is all about the new pros climbing the polls. The old pros of yesteryear will undoubtedly stick around a while, but the theme to keep an eye on is how the new guard does all the winning.