Hats off to Tiger Woods for his splendid victory at the Old Course, but if the lad had to play me in a true test of golf—36 holes a day for three weeks, the way we played matches when I was in my prime—he would very much be in for a struggle. Tiger might whip my 179-year-old arse over a few rounds, but I have no doubt I'd take him over the long haul.
Tiger's length and the venom with which he hits are impressive. At best, I could swipe my feathery 175 yards. Still, Tiger wouldn't last in a head-to-head, because I would wear him down. Let's see his speedy hips and massive swing hold up for 21 days. Let's see Tiger try those powerful contortionist moves while wearing a heavy tweed coat and boots with steel tacks. Let's see him wallop one of my featheries, which would explode midair with his power, and stop approaches on greens too hard for even Willie Park to hold. I would love to see Tiger drain a 30-footer over my perfectly placed stymie.
Aye, I am disappointed with the way golf has changed. It has become a lazy man's game. In the old days we took only one practice swing a round, didn't read putts—we simply hoped for the best—and finished 18 holes in a shade over two hours. Mind you, this was during the Open Championship.
The Open has become a traveling circus with myriad grandstands, cranes, photographers and ill-behaved fans. In the center ring are the players, who are obsessed with themselves and their money. The camaraderie isn't what it was when Willie, Andrew Strath, my son, Junior, and I were going at it tooth and nail. I'd love to see today's players care about the game and savor their surroundings the way we did. Mostly, though, I'd like to see Tiger play the way I used to. Then he might win four Opens in seven years, just as I did.