Choi, Norman, Villegas, Harrington … Open Throws Up Intriguing Storylines

According to his good friend Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods has been watching the Open on television, as a golf fan.

If so, then he must be as excited and intrigued as all of us on how things will eventually pan out at Royal Birkdale this weekend.

Greg Norman, KJ Choi, Padraig Harringon and the new kid on the block, Camilo Villegas have provided viewers with plenty of potential storylines that could turn into fairytales.

Greg Norman, as we all know, is the original “Tiger” in terms of wooing the fans. Norman was world number one for many years and had the presence and charisma to carry a tournament on his own.

That he is back in contention, at the halfway stage and at 53 years old,, has turned the clock back for those fans who watched him dominate all those years ago.

Asia, meanwhile, is keenly watching KJ Choi. For long, golf writers in Asia have been mechanically pining for an Asian golfer to make a major breakthrough.

And what an appropriate venue for Choi to become that Asian golfer. It was at the 1971 Open at the same venue, that Taiwan’s affable Mr Lu came close before falling to American Lee Trevino.

Halfway leader Choi has a clutch of PGA Tour victories to his name and knows how to win, though he’s going to have a lot of competition.

And that could come from Colombian Villegas, the youngster with the movie star looks who is only a major away from becoming a big-time star on the circuit.

His spectacular 65 to take him to one-over at the halfway stage, two strokes behind Choi, was great to watch. Him, and players such as Anthony Kim, are certainly looking like forming the next generation of players trying to topple Woods.

For Irishman Harrington, the fact that he is only three off the pace after two rounds is amazing. The defending champion wasn’t even sure if he could last four rounds because of an injury that nearly forced him to pull out.

After a 68 in the second round, the last thing probably on his mind now is to withdraw.

Also part of the script is David Duval, a former Open champion who suffered a Baker-Finch-esque slump after his 2001 victory. He is tied with Harrington and is looking to revive his career.

That doesn’t cover all of them. There are plenty of other challengers who can emerge. Tiger will be watching very carefully.

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