Scott Stallings, the 67th-ranked PGA player in the world, won the Farmers Insurance Open in January, fending off Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Jordan Spieth, among others.
Well, at Royal Liverpool this past weekend, Stallings didn’t even make the cut.
That’s how difficult the British Open is.
“(The tournament) was awesome, (but) unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut. I missed it by a couple,” Stallings said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “But it was good. The fans were great. They get it, man. Their weather is terrible, but they love golf, and it doesn’t matter what it is outside. They’ll go out and support it. It’s pretty incredible.”
Stallings, however, was disappointed to not make it to the weekend.
“You know what you’re getting when you get over there,” he said, referring to the weather conditions, “but the draw is so (crucial). It can be play different from hour to hour, from day to day. The course played tougher when I was on it. I didn’t play my best, but I didn’t play terrible. I was just kind of (bummed) I didn’t get an opportunity to play in the same conditions as the other guys did.”
That’s not sour grapes, either. Bubba Watson, who won the Master’s this year, didn’t make the cut, either. Neither did former Open Championship winners Ernie Els or Padraig Harrington.
Perhaps that puts Rory McIlroy’s British Open brilliance in perspective. McIlroy shot a 17-under 271 to join Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to ever win three majors by the age of 25.
“That was incredible,” Stallings said of McIlroy’s performance. “I hit balls beside him on Wednesday morning. We both played really early, and you could tell he was swinging with confidence and swinging with determination to go out there and have an opportunity to win. Maybe his dad put a little extra pressure on him knowing he had that big bet coming in, but it just goes to show how good he is. When he plays great, he’s definitely one of the best in the world – if not the best in the world.”
Woods, meanwhile, finished 6-over 294, matching his highest score in an Open. Even as Woods’ play deteriorates, though, Stallings reminded listeners just how important the 38-year-old has been for the game of golf.
Stallings knows firsthand. In fact, Woods inspired Stallings to pursue golf.
“I played basketball, baseball, soccer – everything,” the 29-year-old said. “When Tiger won (the Masters) in ’97, I wasn’t even that good at golf. He made golf what it is today. Everybody that plays golf on the PGA Tour should be thankful for him every day they wake up – because he’s definitely responsible for what it is now and the popularity and everything. He made it exciting. I’ve never seen anyone just dominate like that.”
Few people have, but mid-20s McIlroy is slightly reminiscent of mid-20s Tiger – with one distinction.
“(It’s) not that the level of talent was not great when Tiger won in ’97, but the fields are so much deeper. Anybody can win now,” Stallings said. “I just think it goes to show (that McIlroy has) the ability . . . to focus and be great – and that’s exactly what he is.”
In fact, McIlroy might just be leading the next generation of great golfers.
“Between him, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, they’re three of the most impressive young guys I’ve ever been around in my life,” Stallings said. “As much as their talent speaks for itself, the way they carry themselves off the course speaks volumes. A bunch of young kids can learn a lot from them as far as how they take success and failure and kind of roll with it. These guys love to pay golf, and they’re really, really good at it.”