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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
I'm sorry I can't give you a scouting report on Royal Birkdale. I've never been there and don't know a thing about it, other than when the British was last played at Birkdale, in 1998, Mark O'Meara won his Open in a playoff with Brian Watts . Some guy named Tiger came in third. I've heard good things about Birkdale, but St. Andrews is my favorite Open site because of ... everything. You can walk past the 18th fairway right into town and get something to eat. Plus, it's the home of golf. There's no place like it.
My dark horse pick was going to be Perry, but instead, I like Hunter Mahan [left]. That kid is good. He's cocky, which is a positive, and he would make a heck of a first-time major winner. He was 18th at Torrey Pines and tied for second the following week in Hartford. He's on top of his game.
I also see Justin Rose playing well at Birkdale. He has to have good vibes from '98, when he was a teen amateur and holed out from the rough on the 72nd hole to finish fourth. He has a lot more game now.
DRIVE, HE SAID
The obvious pick would be Mickelson [right], the No. 2 player in the World Ranking. But Phil usually struggles with the wind at the British. Plus, it's tough for me to get past his performance at Torrey Pines. Could you make a more asinine decision than to play a 7,600-yard Open course without a driver? After one round during which you didn't hit your three-wood well, wouldn't you think, Hey, let's get the driver back in the bag? How long does it take to get the message after you watch Adam Scott and Tiger blow it 50 yards past you and make birdies and eagles on 12 and 13 while you struggle for pars? Until Saturday, apparently, which was too late. The U.S. Open isn't the time to experiment. Phil has played with two drivers, no driver, five wedges—I'm sure he'll concoct another interesting game plan for Birkdale. Phil should just hit it and chase it and forget all the rest.
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The club was formed in 1889 and last held R&A events in 2005 (Women's Open, British Amateur)