Hats off to Tiger Woods for his splendid victory at the Old
Course, but if the lad had to play me in a true test of golf--36
holes a day for three weeks, the way we played matches when I was
in my prime--he would very much be in for a struggle. Tiger might
whip my 179-year-old arse over a few rounds, but I have no doubt
I'd take him over the long haul.
Tiger's length and the venom with which he hits are impressive.
At best, I could swipe my feathery 175 yards. Still, Tiger
wouldn't last in a head-to-head, because I would wear him down.
Let's see his speedy hips and massive swing hold up for 21 days.
Let's see Tiger try those powerful contortionist moves while
wearing a heavy tweed coat and boots with steel tacks. Let's see
him wallop one of my featheries, which would explode midair with
his power, and stop approaches on greens too hard for even Willie
Park to hold. I would love to see Tiger drain a 30-footer over my
perfectly placed stymie.
Aye, I am disappointed with the way golf has changed. It has
become a lazy man's game. In the old days we took only one
practice swing a round, didn't read putts--we simply hoped for
the best--and finished 18 holes in a shade over two hours. Mind
you, this was during the Open Championship.
The Open has become a traveling circus with myriad grandstands,
cranes, photographers and ill-behaved fans. In the center ring
are the players, who are obsessed with themselves and their
money. The camaraderie isn't what it was when Willie, Andrew
Strath, my son, Junior, and I were going at it tooth and nail.
I'd love to see today's players care about the game and savor
their surroundings the way we did. Mostly, though, I'd like to
see Tiger play the way I used to. Then he might win four Opens
in seven years, just as I did.
David Joy, who impersonates Old Tom Morris, lives in St. Andrews.
COLOR PHOTO: LANE STEWART