Will It Be a Scottish Winner on Both Tours?
Over on the PGA side of things, the men are all doing the right things to gear up for the British Open next week. They’re tuning their game at the Scottish Open, getting used to weather conditions, horrendous rough and a worldwide field. So far, it seems to be going Britain’s way, with Jon Parry (Britain) leading on day one with a 64. He is followed by Simon Kahn (Britain) with a 65, James Morrison (Britain) and Shane Lowry (Ireland) with scores of 66. The only fly in the ointment is the presence of Phil Mickelson, who also came in with a 66.
The national components of Great Britain haven’t always agreed on British identity, or participation, but where golf is concerned, they’re ready to hold off the Roman Empire all over again, or Asian, American, European, whatever it might be. When the men’s date with Muirfield rolls around, it will be an international slugfest.
However, not all of the great Scottish golfers are present. For example, Catriona Matthews is three thousand miles away from the famed center of golf. And why? Besides not being able to play in the men’s “Open,” she’s busy sharing the lead in a Canadian tournament, which has a reasonably strong association with Britain, so it’s not entirely irrelevant to the reference.
The Manulife Financial LPGA Classic is underway in Waterloo, Ontario (French golfers, beware), and this elegant Grey Silo Golf Club course bears no small resemblance to the heathers and lakes of Scotland, save more green between the tee and pin. This being the week for Scots, Matthews came in with a 63 on a soft day where attacking the pin was the thing to do. American Angela Stafford enjoyed a similar round, and the two will face off tomorrow in round 2.
Matthews is from the big city – Edinburgh, Scottish as it gets, and she’s no stranger to the winner’s circle. Born in ’69, she has four LPGA wins, five European wins, one major and two others, plus an exceptional amateur career. She’s a tough-minded competitor, not prone to collapse.
Stanford, on the other hand, is from Forth Worth, Texas. Fort Worth is not a British type of city if you’ve ever been there, and Angela is not Scottish, so far as we know – but that’s all right. She’s seen the world’s best courses, and feels right at home on this one. Born in ’77, she has five LPGA wins and one Futures victory to her credit.
But here’s the catch. Two strokes back, sauntering through the first eighteen in a state of complete comfort, is Inbee Park – yes, that Inbee Park, the women who won the last three events of the tour, and isn’t worried in the least that she only shot an opening 65. As a side goal, she is aiming at being the first LPGA player to win four events in a row since Lorena Ochoa did it five years ago. Whether or not that comes to pass, Park is beginning to demonstrate the sort of domination that we saw with the advent of both Annika Sorenstam and Ochoa. For me, I expected to see it from Stacy Lewis, and perhaps I still will, but for now, it looks as if Scotland week is threatened by Park, who could return the center of golfing attention to Asia.
Perhaps they’re thinking the same thing about Phil over in the old country. There’s a lot of golf coming up on that island called Britain this month, and few of them want to give anything up to a westerner. Hoot mon! Anything could happen, on either continent.