British Open 2011: 16 Reasons to Pay Attention Without Tiger Woods

John BurkeContributor IJuly 7, 2011

British Open 2011: 16 Reasons to Pay Attention Without Tiger Woods

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    Well, Tiger Woods is officially out of the 2011 British Open

    So why should we all watch it?

    There are a number of reasons. In fact, there may even be more reasons!

    After all, this is major championship golf! This is exciting stuff, people. The British Open is like my second Christmas. I love to watch these guys play links golf. It is different and exciting!

    Here at 16 reasons to tune in the Open, with Tiger tuned out.

1. Rory McIlroy

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    Have you seen this guy play golf?

    He is outstanding. We have not seen a player maneuver a golf course like this since, well, Tiger Woods. 

    McIlroy shot a second round 80 last year in the British Open and still nearly won the thing. The bottom line is, the guy plays some gosh darn exciting golf.

    If he doesn't give you a reason to watch the British Open, nothing will. 

2. The Venue

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    Much has been made about Royal St. George's. Either players love it or they hate it. 

    While it is far from my favorite British Open venue, it is a solid course that gives anyone a chance to win.

    In essence, it is fair. Ben Curtis won the last time the British was played here in 2003. And if the unknown Curtis can win here, it is anyone's ball game. 

3. It's a Major!

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    This is the British Open! 

    It is one of only four majors all year! 

    This isn't the John Deere Classic; this is for all the marbles.

    This is where good golfers become great. Where names become legends. This is major championship golf. 

    It is as exciting as golf gets. 

4. Tiger Isn't Playing

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    I'm sure some of you out there stopped watching golf when Tiger Woods was revealed to be a much more "complex" man that previously thought. 

    So now, with him out of the picture, you have a reason to watch again. You won't see the guy you can no longer stand hitting shots. In fact, Tiger will be nowhere to be seen during the British Open, allowing other players to receive attention.

5. America Can Prove It Is Relevant

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    Americans have been noticeably absent from the leaderboard in recent majors. 

    This is our chance to prove, that even with Tiger out, we can still compete. 

    We have a host of capable players in Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Nick Watney and Dustin Johnson. There are even more guys who have the talent to win the British, but simply are not as big of names.

    So c'mon American players, let's prove to the world we can still compete week in and week out!

6. America Can Prove It Is Too Weak to Compete

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    If things go the same way as the past few majors, American golf will show it is in a huge lull.

    America had no luck at the U.S. Open, and if the same occurs at the British, it may be time to admit that Europe is simply better than us for the time being. 

7. Phil Mickelson's Last Shot to Win a British Open Title

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    Phil Mickelson was expected to be the player to step up in Tiger's absence. Well, he hasn't even come close to filling his role.

    The fact that Phil is not getting any younger, combined with his arthritis, tell me that his years for winning a major are winding down.

    And with Tiger out of the field, this may be Phil's last chance to win a British Open. 

8. Sergio Garcia Can Show He Is Back

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    The game of golf has been a long, tumultuous journey for Sergio Garcia. 

    Once a can't miss star, Garcia struggled to make cuts the past few years. 

    This year, however, it seems as if the Sergio circa 1999 is back. He is confident and he is good. 

    Although Garcia lost in a playoff a couple of weeks ago on the European Tour, he showed he still has the game to put himself in contention against a strong field. 

9. It's Links Golf!

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    I love watching golf on the type of course for which it was designed. 

    It is great watching players hit balls into 40 mph winds and hitting runners into greens. It is a different style of golf that is played at a different pace.

    It is a nice break from the ordinary. 

10. To Witness Another Ben Curtis

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    The last time the British Open was at Royal St. George's, Ben Curtis won. 

    He was relatively unknown at the time, and shocked many when he won. 

    But this is golf and who doesn't love to see a Cinderella story? History has shown us anyone can win here if they are playing well, so why not tune in for the chance at witnessing history yet again?

11. Luke Donald Can Prove He Deserves the No. 1 Spot

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    Everyone seems to have their own ideas about how the Official World Golf Ranking system should work. Some say the current system is fine, and others demand changes. 

    Regardless, we are stuck with what we have right now. 

    And right now, Luke Donald is No. 1.

    If he wants to silence the critics and show he deserves the spot, he needs a very high finish, if not a win at Royal St. George's. 

12. It Beats Watching the Viking Classic

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    So you want to watch golf this weekend?

    Well, you can always turn on the Viking Classic. 

    The Classic has the unfortunate position of being played opposite the British Open. Thus, not many people even know it exists. 

    So hey, the British Open beats the heck out of the Viking Classic.

13. The Tradition

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    Out of all of the majors, the most storied is the British Open.

    The tournament dates back to the 1860's, so the tradition is very rich. It is fun watching golfers play for a title that was won by men over 100 years ago.

    The championship is old, and so are the courses. It is a nice change of pace from the other majors. 

14. To See If Lee Westwood Can Finally Win a Major

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    In my opinion, Lee Westwood is the best active player who has never won a major. 

    He has all the talent to win one. In fact, Westwood should have won a couple by now. 

    The reality, however, is that Westwood always stumbles when the big one is on the line. 

    Can he finally pull one off at Royal St. George's? We can only watch and see. 

15. The Course Is the Shortest Major Venue in 2011

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    At only 7,204 yards, Royal St. George's is the shortest major venue in 2011. 

    So maybe that isn't exactly short, but considering most of the courses majors are held, it is down right playable for the everyday golfer.

    Well, maybe not playable, but it is more enjoyable than watching these guys demolish a course almost 8,000 yards.

16. Scores Can Be Low

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    If the winds stay down, this course is very vulnerable.

    While Ben Curtis won in 2003 at one-under par, Greg Norman won in 1993 at 13-under.

    Thus, the course can be taken advantage of; it just depends on the conditions.