Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson miss the Open Championship. The 149th edition of golf’s oldest Grand Slam tournament, scheduled from 15 to 18 July in Sandwich (England), Kent, loses two majors. The Japanese (this year’s winner of The Masters) and the American (king of The Masters in 2012 and 2014) will not be on the pitch at Royal St George’s GC due to Covid problems.
Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson
The first, a positive result during the Rocket Mortgage Classic (PGA Tour), has not yet been negativized. While the second will be forced to stay out for having had close contact with positive people at Covid despite having passed all the required pre-departure tests. Harold Varner III will take over from Matsuyama, Brendan Steele will take over from Watson. But after Kevin Na, who decided to desert the appointment due to travel restrictions imposed by England, the Open Championship (canceled in 2020 for Covid) loses two other protagonists.
If not bitter, the record that Lee Westwood is about to break is at least sad. On Thursday on the Royal St. George’s course, the professional will play the 2021 Open Championship, which is his 88th Major. And, as in the previous 87, he will be on the hunt for his first Grand Slam victory. Like him, with a dry mouth in a Grand Slam, no one ever.
In 25 years of an amazing career, the 48-year-old has won everything and everywhere but not a Grand Slam competition in golf. On the showcase the beauty of 44 titles between European Tour and tournaments in Asia, two successes on the PGA Tour, 22 weeks from number one in the world ranking and 23 total points won in ten editions of Ryder Cup played (seven won). Yet he misses that sharp between the Open Championship, Augusta Masters, US Open and PGA Championship. That icing on a perfect career seems further and further away.
From Thursday he will be the involuntary leader of the sad ranking of the Majors played without ever having raised the trophy. At the 2021 Open Championship Lee will oust Jay Haas from the top (87 slams between the 1970s and 2008). And to say that the English often almost touched that trophy. 18 times out of 87 he finished in the top ten. Of these three are second places, six third places.
Fans will remember Augusta losing to Mickelson on the last lap in 2010 or six years after witnessing Jordan Spieth crash before giving up himself to Danny Willett. At the 2008 Us Open he was leading on the last lap but dropped three times in four holes, giving way to Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate. At the 2013 Open Championship he was beaten by Mickelson at his best yet.
Winning a Major, you know, is a feat. The stars of golf must arrange themselves in the right way in a few days: a great game on the field must correspond to a large dose of luck and very strong nerves.
Westwood has made a comeback in recent months, winning and convincing on more than one circuit. With his wife as permanent caddy and son Sam as caddy from time to time he is experiencing a second golfing youth. But the question remains as to what the memory of player Lee Westwood will be like one day.