Monday, July 19, 2010

Mark Calcavecchia and Rickie Fowler: A Tale of Two Opens


A lot of things can go into a score. Everyone remembers Nick Faldo in the 1987 British Open, when he made 18 straight pars in the final round to win. That is rare, but you can make a ton of birdies and a ton of bogeys, and still end up with the same score. We've all done it a thousand times in our lives.

The same can be said about a tournament. It is basically just one long round, and the goal is to finish the four days as low as possible. That's where we introduce Mark Calcavecchia and Rickie Fowler. Both couldn't be more opposite. Calc is 50, with a belly and a wife and 13 PGA Tour titles. Fowler is 21, with a waist in the low 30s, a ton of female fans that swoon over his looks, and no wins yet in his rookie season.

At St. Andrews this week, they were equally different. Fowler opened his first British ever with a nasty 79, so gross that I wrote this over at Devil Ball Golf basically telling Fowler to enjoy the flight back to the States on Friday evening. Calcavecchia had already put the finishing touches on his first round 70, a good score but nothing great. It was his second round 67 that got people talking, because it seemed everyone else on the course short of Oosthuizen was blowing up. Those two scores would put Calc in the final round on Saturday with the eventual champion, while Fowler was praying that his 67 in round two would be good enough to make the cut.

Thanks to bad weather it did, and Fowler made it on the number. He wouldn't be flying home early, but the expectations were still low, right?

Wrong. Calc went on to blow up on Saturday, making a 9 on the par-5 5th hole, and luckily was able to play the back nine well enough to shoot 77, a number that could have been miles worse if he hadn't made those late birdies. Fowler was plowing along nicely at the Old Course, and ended Saturday with a 71. Nothing great, but nothing terrible. He was slowly moving up the leaderboard.

Then came Sunday. Calc was done, posting 80 on Sunday, and finishing two shots short of last place for those that made the cut. Fowler added another incredible round, with his bogey-free 67 on Sunday to finish tied for 14th, his best finish ever at a major championship. Just think, if Fowler had been able to shoot even par on Thursday, nothing that impressive given how everyone played the first day, he would have been alone in second place behind Oos.

One tournament. Two guys. Two completely different ways to do it.

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