The British Open on ABC.--

I'm having a pleasant morning watching the Open Championship, aka The British Open, on ABC. Ernie Els just tied Tiger Woods for the lead at 13 under par with a birdie on #5. Playing in the next (and last) group, Woods then eagled the hole to take a 2-shot lead at 15 under par. Sergio Garcia, who has the disadvantage of playing with the brilliant Woods, is struggling, having already missed a bunch of short putts. Sergio started one stroke behind Woods, but is now 5 strokes down. It's not clear yet whether anyone besides Woods, Els, and Chris DiMarco (-12) are going to contend today. Woods looks so solid now that he will be very difficult to beat.

The wind is blowing hard at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) and the course is burned out even more than usual. At first glance on TV, the turf looks like an unwatered burned out municipal course in Texas (or Chicago in mid-August). The course at Hoylake (which I haven't played) looks to be less interesting than most of the courses in the Open rota; it is certainly less scenic. But there is something about links golf that I just love. And the cavernous bunkers with sod faces are genuine hazards.

Another good thing about watching the British Open is that, with the time difference, ABC is willing to preempt morning programming and show 7 hours of coverage, including the complete round of the leaders, who tee off last.

Here is a link for those who want to reread my post on last year's British Open at St. Andrews, where I had played in 2000:

Golf is one of the few sports where ordinary people can play on many of the historic courses where the pros play (though getting on most of them is far easier in the UK than in the US). After playing a course, it is a treat to watch a tournament played on it.

UPDATE: With about 5 holes to play, Woods now has a 1-shot lead over Chris DiMarco, who just sank a 45-foot putt for par.

2d UPDATE: With 3 holes to play, Woods has a 2-stroke lead over DiMarco, who has only 2 more holes to play.

3d UPDATE: Tiger won by 2 strokes over DiMarco, broke down crying as he left the last green, and a few minutes later gave a touching speech referring to his recently deceased father Earl.

Woods is probably the greatest golfer who ever lived, though he still needs to surpass Jack Nicklaus's total of 18 professional major championships before that question will be settled finally. Nicklaus was 32 when he won his 11th professional major; Woods won his 11th today at age 30.