July 18 2013
Todd Hamilton's 2004 Open Championship win is one of his two PGA TOUR wins.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GULLANE, Scotland -- Todd Hamilton was a well-traveled 38-year-old PGA TOUR rookie with a resume that included 14 international victories when he beat Ernie Els in a four-hole aggregate playoff and won the 2004 Open Championship at Royal Troon.
The surprising victory came just four months after Hamilton picked up his first, and as it's turned out, only other TOUR win at The Honda Classic. What could have been a springboard to greater success, though, has turned out into a nosedive into near-oblivion for the veteran, who described the last nine years in the simplest of terms as "terrible."
"There's been days where I didn't want to play golf," Hamilton said candidly.
Thursday at Muirfield was not one of them, though. The American made four birdies in a round of 69 that was his first in the 60s at the Open Championship since the career-defining final round in 2004. He was steady, too, hitting nine fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation.
"I enjoyed it. I do enjoy this style of golf," Hamilton said. "I think it takes a person that is very happy with not only their game, but themselves. You've got to be very confident and do stuff that you feel you can do, otherwise you try to chase the game. And on courses like this it is very difficult."
But Hamilton wasn't talking like a confident man as he discussed the last nine years that have included just three top-10 finishes on TOUR and a high finish of 133rd on the money list. He opened the 2013 campaign with three made cuts on the European Tour and was hoping for a good year but he came back to the States and hasn't finished higher than 41st on the PGA TOUR or Web.com Tour this year.
"Seen a lot of good things, but I offset that with a lot of bad things, and a little bit of mediocre stuff in between," Hamilton said.
The missing link, he says, is that all-important confidence.
"You can watch a guy in the NBA one night, go 10-for-11, next night he's 1-for-15," Hamilton noted. "So I've had a lot of 1-for-15's the last few years."
Hamilton, who is now 47, says he's probably recognized more often in the UK than in the U.S. given his Open victory. In fact, he had dinner at a fish-and-chips place the other night and the owner immediately pegged as a golfer, even if he couldn't remember Hamilton's name.
"I definitely thought my golfing career would have been better after that than it was," Hamilton said. "Looking back, though, I had done a lot of good things overseas at places that people probably wouldn't know that golf even exists. ...
"So when I won The Open I was kind of at the end. I think I was 38, so I was kind of at the end or close to the end of the decent career. I thought it was decent, I just didn't do it on the European Tour or U.S. Tour."