Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: Open

This weekend’s golf tournaments should’ve been broadcast on the Food Network.

With ham and hot dogs flying on the European and PGA tours, we kept waiting for Alton Brown to take over the play-by-play.

Bryce Molder wins the Open

Bryce Molder

In case you missed it, the weekend started with Elliott Saltman winning a Spanish ham for his hole-in-one at the Madrid Masters, and ended with some lunatic tossing a frankfurter – bun and all – at Tiger Woods during the Open.

Too bad it wasn’t the instead.

The unusual spate of food-related news nearly overshadowed Bryce Molder’s clutch playoff victory over Briny Baird. Actually, Woods’ return from a two-month sabbatical did eclipse Molder’s breakthrough, at least in the eyes of media and fans.

But that’s nothing new.

Herewith, our weekly list of the week’s pros and cons. Ketchup, mustard and relish not included:

Golf Claps

Bryce Molder: Since leaving Georgia Tech in 2001, Molder’s career has been one long cautionary tale. A can’t-miss kid who (mostly) missed, Molder was bounced from the PGA Tour in 2002, spent several years kicking around the Nationwide circuit, then played reasonably well on the big tour the past two seasons.

The beauty of golf, though, is that second acts are common. Molder has clearly matured, evidenced by his gritty, six-hole playoff win capped by a cathartic birdie putt. Having waited until the ripe old age of 31 to grab his maiden victory, maybe Molder can finally start living up to all that promise.

Tiger Woods: It’s tempting to stick him on the Silent Treatment list, what with Woods’ ho-hum tie for 30th at 7-under par. But he seemed to get things heading in the right direction after an opening 73, going 68-68-68 and briefly reaching the top 10 on Sunday.

Everyone forgets how well Tiger played at the Masters, where he tied for fourth and appeared to have his swing changes nearly sorted out. If he can stay healthy long enough for Sean Foley’s teaching to really take, we could see something approaching the Tiger of old pretty soon.

Silent Treatment

Briny Baird: We’re loath to relegate the likeable Baird to the jeers column; he did little wrong during the tournament proper or playoff, holing an eagle chip on 17 to send it to overtime. But Baird had the trophy in his grasp twice during extra holes, and couldn’t convert birdie putts from 8 and 12 feet. Still winless after 348 Tour starts, Baird doesn’t figure to get many more chances like that.

Paul Casey: As the top-ranked player in the field, Casey looked like the favorite despite a two-shot deficit entering the final round. A charge never materialized, however, as Casey stumbled with a pair of sixes on the front nine en route to an even-par 71. He was the only player among the top 23 finishers not to break par Sunday.


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