With the World Cup looming, it’s a thrilling time for sport lovers across the UK. Even more so if you’re English because there’s a glimmer of hope that football’s greatest prize might just “come home” for a second time.
If, however, you’re Scottish (or Irish or Welsh for that matter) then you may be slightly less excited at the prospect of the World Cup. For an entire month, well probably slightly less than that, we’ll be bombarded via TV, internet and the national press with endless coverage of England’s campaign. All other sport will take a backseat and you’ll be back at the Classified ads before you find any golf news.
All the while we’re watching Capello and crew’s trials and tribulations, we’ll be subtly reminded that Scotland are not participating for the third World Cup in a row. I, along with many other Scottish sports fans, may start to become depressed. Let’s face it – it’s the default setting for the Scottish sports enthusiast.
Well, I have discovered reason to be cheerful. After chatting with Robbie Clyde of Event Scotland at the media day for the Senior Open Championship, I’ve realised just how lucky I am (as a golf fan) to be in Scotland this summer. There’s a simply unbelievable number of tournaments to look forward to.
Things kick off next week with the Challenge Tour’s Scottish Hydro Challenge at Spey Valley Golf Club. A flock of rising stars and experienced campaigners will battle over the excellent Highland layout for a €200,000 prize fund. Home player Jamie McLeary defends the title. He beat Edoardo Molinari into second place last season.
From June 14-19, the best amateurs in the world will converge on East Lothian to contest the Amateur Championship at North Berwick and Muirfield. The last time the event was held at Muirfield, Sergio Garcia took the title.
Loch Lomond will, for the 15th consecutive year, welcome a host of the world’s best players for the Barclays Scottish Open from July 8-11. Martin Kaymer defends the title and Phil Mickelson has confirmed his participation.
The next week is the big one – The Open Championship at St Andrews. There are few events in world sport that generate such an incredible atmosphere as when golf’s greatest individual tournament visits the home of golf. Can Tiger make it a hat-trick in “The Auld Grey Toon” and become the only man to take three Open victories around St Andrews? Might Master McIlroy make his Major breakthrough? Could Old Tom (Watson that is) threaten again? Will Seve be there for the Champions Challenge? I’m salivating as I type.
And the golfing bandwagon keeps on rolling the following week, up the East coast to Carnoustie for the Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard. An amazing field is primed to compete on the famous Angus links – Player, Watson, Lehman, Faldo, Pavin, Lyle, O’Meara, Roberts, Kite and Torrance are among those who will look to use their experience to successfully negotiate the UK’s most difficult links course.
In August (26-29) the European Tour is back in Scotland for the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles over the Centenary Course – venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup. It’s set to be a fascinating tournament as it’s the last counting event in the race for points for this year’s Ryder Cup. The team will be finalised on the Sunday with Colin Montgomerie announcing his three wild card picks at the close of play.
In addition to these, Scotland also welcomes – The European Senior Tour for the Scottish Senior Open at Fairmont St Andrews (Aug 20-22) and the Ladies European Tour for the Ladies Scottish Open at Archerfield Links (Aug 18-20.) Then, of course, there’s the Dunhill Links Championship the week after the Ryder Cup in October.
Surely even the most disenchanted Scottish sports fan must be feeling a little buoyed after reading about that feast of golf. I for one am off to look out my binoculars and flask in preparation for some hardcore spectating.