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Jul 20, 2013 | 08:51 AM

He's Smokin'!

Seems some golf purists are worried what a British Open win by 49-year-old Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez would do for the game. Why? Because he isn’t a flat belly, he smokes cigars, drinks good amounts of red wine (Spanish, of course), his warm-up routine is little more than some funky looking stretching, and even when he has the lead, he has no routine at night, choosing to go to bed when he wants to—after another cigar and more wine. But at least when round three started today, he had the lead, and that’s seven months after breaking his leg skiing plus presently dealing with tennis elbow. His take? “I feel relaxed. I love what I’m doing. I play golf.” Whether or not his training regimen catches on (personally, we like it), his attitude is worth adopting.

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Jul 19, 2013 | 07:35 AM

Nick Knock

Back in May, when Nick Faldo announced plans to compete in the British Open at Muirfield—where he won in both 1987 and 1992—he said, “I’ll probably never [again] get a chance to walk at Muirfield.” Maybe, maybe not, but he shouldn’t count on an invite from Rory McIlroy. Sir Nick, now a TV pundit, has taken to the role of elder statesman by not concealing his thoughts about other players (which is what the TV networks want, after all), and this week got in a bit of a scrap with McIlroy about good work habits, dedication to practicing and playing, and the mistake of changing clubs and ball all at once. Agree or disagree, but at the end of the first round, the 56-year-old was 8-over-par (and yesterday was his birthday), while the 24-year-old McIlroy was… 8-over-par. It’s likely neither will make the cut at the end of today, but whose life—and psyche—will be more affected?

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Jul 18, 2013 | 09:06 AM

Muirfield Marches On

So much for the claim by some media wags that the changes made to Muirfield by third-generation architect and Open advance man Martin Hawtree were so extensive that the design of the links should be attributed to him, not H.S. Colt, who devised the clever double-loop routing in 1925 from an earlier plan by Old Tom Morris. Despite tweaks to 15 holes, notably the addition of eight new back tees, eight relocated or enlarged greenside bunkers, and several greens expanded to Colt’s original perimeters, the storied links, universally praised by the pros for its fairness, looks not much different from the place where Ernie Els captured the 2002 Open Championship. According to R & A chief executive Peter Dawson, a fund was created to bring the nine courses on the Open rota into the modern era. He said an average of about $800,000 had been spent on each course, adding that while “quite a few changes” were made at Muirfield, “they are very subtle.” Preservationists can rest easy: the game’s top players are navigating a classic links built by Colt and touched up by Hawtree.

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Jul 17, 2013 | 10:32 AM

Brewing Storm at Open

With Augusta National finally admitting female members, Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the R&A, which stages The Open Championship, had a tense 45-minute press conference today trying to defend not only the lack of women in his governing-body organization but the fact that there are no female members at this year’s host, Muirfield, along with two other clubs in the Open rota, Troon and Royal St. George’s. He called it “absurd” to compare a men’s-only (or women’s-only) club to one that discriminates based on race. Men like to socialize with men and women like to socialize with women and the media need to get a life, he said in so many words. You could practically see the sweat form on Dawson’s head when a female reporter asked, “Could you just explain to the 10 women in the room why racism is unacceptable and sexism clearly still is?”

“Well, I don't really think, to be honest, and we could sit here all day and debate this, but I don't really think that a golf club, which has a policy of being a place where like-minded men or, indeed, like-minded women, go and want to play golf together and do their thing together ranks up against some of these other forms of discrimination,” Dawson responded. “I really just don't think they're comparable, and I don't think they're damaging. And it's just kind of, for some people, a way of life that they rather like. I don't think in doing that they're intending to do others down or intending to do others any harm. It's just a way of life that some of these people like. And realistically, that's all it is. You can dress it up and be a lot more if you want, but on Saturday morning when the guy gets up or the lady gets up and out of the marital bed, if you like, and goes off and plays golf with his chums and comes back in the afternoon, that's not on any kind of par with racial discrimination or anti-Semitism or any of these things. It's just what people kind of do.”

Clearly, private clubs can do whatever they like, but it becomes a bit of a sticky wicket when the club provides a public function, as they do when they host the Open. What are you thoughts on the subject?

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