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Jun 04

Jeckyll and Hyde in the LPGA and U.S. Open

Getting Ready for the Majors

All right, it’s that time again, the time to see who is going to spoil Rory McIllroy’s return party, or if it will be spoiled at all. We place a lot of stock in what we see in the previous week before such an event. It usually doesn’t pan out very well, but we keep doing it.

For example, we’ve watched the resurgence of Tiger’s game in recent months, to the point where he simply must be considered the favorite in the upcoming Open. That was the case, at least, until we watched him play last week. For the first time in his career and my non-career, he had more triple bogeys on his card than I did (allowing, of course, for the huge difference in difficulty factor). As with every other facet of Tiger’s game and life, both his Jeckyll and Hyde aspects are, to say the least, dynamic, bigger than life.

It happened last week to the woman I thought to be almost invulnerable to such a collapse. Stacy Lewis must have stumbled on to a hunk of kryptonite, and shot a final round of 80 in the Shoprite Classic. When I looked at the leaderboard, I couldn’t find her anywhere, and wondered if she’d withdrawn. Something must have happened, and I worried about her. She couldn’t have fallen out of the picture because of her golf – she’s just too good for that. So, even Stacy has a Mrs. Hyde – go figger. Incidentally, Karrie Webb won the Shoprite. In the long term, she has demonstrated excellent control over Hyde’s presence in her life.

golf open 1 And what can we say about poor Charley Hoffman. All right, so he isn’t all that poor. Since turning pro in 2000, he’s earned almost thirteen million, which is about one million per year. That may be nothing for Phil or Tiger, but it’s a whole bunch to me, and I’m not in the mood to hear complaints about expenses, taxes, etc. I have those, too.

As I say, though, “poor” Charley Hoffman shot the worst final round in Memorial’s history, an 81. It was as if he’d hired me to play it for him, and I had the day of my life. That’s not the kind of round to put one in the mood for the U.S. Open. Shoot an 81 in January,, but not in late May or early June.

Charley, however, made a very wise decision, by trumping his urge to skip the qualifier for the Open. Instead of packing it in, going home and flipping the remote to the Golf Channel, he showed up anyway, and showed up in a big way, with a 66 and 67 in Memphis. For Hoffman, Hyde evaporated into Jeckyll just in time.

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golf open 2Lee Janzen has won the U.S. Open twice. He’s a big name, but had to qualify by playing Woodmont. The round was nothing to write home about, but worse, Janzen was disqualified for wearing steel spikes. Apparently, it’s ok to wear them on the tour, but not on this particular course, along with one or two others. Interesting that club rules override PGA/USGA rules on the home front. Janzen was warned in a circular that went to all the players, along with a reminder that shorts were allowed. That’s something anyway – if you’re going to allow it in the LPGA, you might as well nix the double standard. Still, that would turn me into Hyde pretty quickly.

golf open 3The fun thing about the “Open” is that it’s so…”open.” New names are coming in, and inspiring stories are being written, such as Kevin Sutherland, who overcame a neck injury that blotted him out of the tour, and qualified in Memphis with a 66 and 67.

Jeckyll and Hyde is the perfect metaphor for the duality we all show in every walk of life, and you can bet that both will be in full view this Open.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.