The Open Championship at Muirfield – Final Day

Well done to Phil Mickelson for winning the Open Championship on a challenging day at Muirfield.   The course was tough, but fair and as the day wore on, many opportunities presented themselves to the leaders.  Many could not capitalize.  Mickelson, however, did, and took the Claret Cup with strokes to spare.  By the time he had sunk his birdie putt on the 18th, only a miracle to another player still on the course would have denied him his victory.

Well done, also to the rest of the players in the field, who individually gave outstanding performances during the tournament.

When my wife and I were at Muirfield in 2002, the scene was quite different as there was a 4-way tie at the end and no clear winner until  Ernie Els parred the 18th to secure his win in sudden death.  This year it was different, as it was clear who the winner was with players still out on the course.  But the excitement level was the same, and the crowd, always knowledgeable, gave enthusiastic recognition to to the outstanding level of play witnessed during the day.

After the excitement of the finish and as the crowds head home, it is always nice to sit back a bit and savor the feeling of the golf course as it slowly reverts to its natural self.  Even though the grandstands, the tented village, the various support facilities will not be dismantled until the following day, there is a feeling of peace and quiet as the sun begins to dip in the west.  The tee boxes are cleared, the fairways are now quiet and the flags have been removed from the greens.  There may be watering here or there, but serenity is in the air.  It seems so sudden, after a week of intense activity.  But soon the course will be active again, as members and guests hit the links again for a round of golf.

The par 3 16th hole gave many of the players a great deal of trouble.   I think it was a pivotal hole during the championship.  So much could go wrong even with a tiny error.  In many cases escaping with a bogey was a good result, and indeed, Lee Westwood, during the 3rd round, saved a crucial bogey after landing in severe trouble on his tee shot.

On Sunday, however, once Mickelson was finished at the 18th with a score of 3-under par for the championship, the closest player, Westwood, was at 16 and needed three birdies starting at the 16th to catch him or birdie-eagle-birdie to win.  That was an impossibility, given how the holes were playing during the tournament.

Below are the yardage charts of the 16th, 17th and 18th.

hole-16-map

hole-17-map hole-18-map

A poor tee shot at 16 could almost guarantee bogey.  At the 17th, the decision is whether to take on the cross bunkers on the second shot to try and get on the green in two.  The wind, also, plays a factor, and a head wind would make that shot extremely risky.  On 18, the key is a good tee shot and to avoid the bunkers.  Mickelson played these three holes par-birdie-birdie.  Westwood, on the other hand, hit a poor tee shot at 16 and made bogey.  Now needing an eagle at 17, he went for it with driver on his second shot and ended up in the deep right rough, denying him any shot at an eagle and thereby securing Mickelson’s victory.

All in all, this was a great tournament and we are looking forward to next year, and of course 2015 at St Andrews!

 

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About James Patrick ("Jamie") Baldwin
James Patrick ("Jamie") Baldwin is an author, blogger, lecturer and consultant in air transportation, an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Maryland University College and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster (London). Previously at ERAU’s College of Business he taught Business Law, Business Law for Airline Managers, and Airline Management. He was also faculty advisor to Sigma Alpha Epsilon. As a lecturer he coordinates Aviation Law workshops for Aeropodium, a UK-based aviation-related events company and organizes Aviation Law Conferences at his law school, American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL). As a consultant he specializes in start-up airline strategies, airline marketing, regulatory compliance, licensing, aircraft sourcing, strategic planning, contracts, agency agreements and preparing business plans. An avid golfer, Mr Baldwin is a golf correspondent for the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Previously Mr Baldwin served as Deputy General Manager for Legal and Regulatory Affairs of Star Airways, a small Turkish cargo airline of which he was a founder, and prior to that, the US Representative of Tajik Air, the international airline of the Republic of Tajikistan. In the latter capacity, he represented the airline’s interests before the US government, multilateral development banks and private US and international business interests. He also coordinated and prepared on behalf of the government of Tajikistan a request for a grant from the US Trade and Development Agency for a feasibility study on its air transport sector. Mr Baldwin also served as an officer in the US Navy (1974-1978) and the active US Naval Reserve (1978-1994). His latest assignments included service as a Naval Liaison Officer on tanker convoys during the Iran/Iraq War, Officer in Charge of military officers boarding, inspecting and briefing masters of merchant ships delivering military cargo during the first Gulf War and Commanding Officer of a US Naval Reserve unit. He is now retired with the rank of Commander. Mr Baldwin is the author of Pan American World Airways – Images of a Great Airline (BluewaterPress, 2011). He also co-edited, with Jeff Kriendler, former Vice President, Corporate Communications at Pan Am, Pan American World Airways – Aviation History through the Words of its People (BluewaterPress, 2011). Mr Baldwin obtained an A.B. (Bachelor’s) Degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California (Los Angeles) and a J.D. (Juris Doctor) Degree from the AUWCL (Washington DC). He is a member of the U.S. Naval Institute, the U. S. Golf Association and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He has traveled widely and includes among his interests golf, hill walking, sailing, model railroading, spectator sports, classical music and writing. He is married and resides in Maryland.

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