Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rory McIlroy winning the British Open will be an upset in my books

There is no denying Rory McIlroy is an amazing golf talent - possibly the best talent since Tiger Woods.  From a study of the British Open winners over the last 30 years (since 1980) and number of trends are apparent.  Only 2 men have won the US Open before the British Open in the same year (the US Open is about 4 weeks before).  Only Tiger Woods (during his amazing year in 2000) and Tom Watson (1982 another amazing year for Watson) have accomplished the feat.  Here are some of the reasons I think why this feat is so difficult:

1.  The British Open is played on a links course, the US Open is not often played on this style of course.  While the pros can play any style and any type of shot on any given day it is a huge change from the style of play at the US Open.  Obviously if they won at the US their game is well suited at that time for that style.

2.  The weather and the course is a great leveler.  The British Open and particularly those played at Royal St Georges are notorious for producing upset winners (Louis Oosthuizen last year, Ben Curtis in 2003, Todd Hamilton in 2004 and John Daly in 1995).  This has been even more pronounced in the last 10 years.  Part of the reason for this could be that even though a player is in great form and hitting great shots they may be more likely to have some bad luck due to the weather or a rough bounce.

3.  The relief of winning a major could lead to some relaxation for a period of time due to the feeling of less pressure.  Some may say that playing with less pressure is better, I also think this is true but maybe in subsequent seasons, at least after a longer period of time after the win.  Of the players that have won the US and British Open in the same year since WWII (Tiger Woods 2000, Tom Watson 1982, Lee Trevino 1971, Ben Hogan 1953) all of them had won majors in previous years.

Rory McIlroy absolutely destroyed the US Open field and is a pleasure to watch play golf.  He is an incredible talent and as a golf fan I am rooting for him to do well.  He has the potential to win many majors and I think he will.  But if he wins the British Open this year he will do something that no other golfer has done.

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