Open stock seems to be on the rise. As practice and preparations for the

140th Open Championship approach their last day tomorrow, Golf Monthly has

learned that sponsorship backing for golf’s oldest Major could hardly be

stronger.

The R&A’s top tiers of sponsors ­ its patrons ­ are five strong this year,

with new patrons Mercedes-Benz and HSBC joining ranks with Rolex, Nikon and

Doosan. Peter Dawson, R&A chief executive, says the tournament’s support

from global, blue chip companies is on an upward trajectory.

We were affected by the recession but we are coming out of it now, says

Dawson, speaking exclusively to Golf Monthly at Royal St. George’s. The dip

did not take us down to any kind of crisis level. This year we have five

patrons on board, but we know already that we will have seven patrons for

2012, which will take sponsorship of the Open Championship to an all-time

high.

Something else reaching an all-time high last night was a shot played by

American Dustin Johnson during a golf darts exhibition laid on by

TaylorMade, at nearby Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club. The club manufacturer

had set up a giant dartboard, measuring over seven metres high, and a team

of TaylorMade staff golfers ­Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen and

Justin Rose among them – paired up with golfing celebrities to hit the board

with golf balls struck from 50 yards.

While the Tour pros on hand generally had little trouble scoring points,

Johnson’s second shot screamed towards the target a little higher than

intended, and the ball ricocheted off the top of the board, looped high into

the evening sky, back over the heads of the assembled spectators, and came

to rest on the narrowest of grass paths between a pair of Mercedes-Benz cars

­ a gleaming C-Class coupe and SLS, complete with gull-wing doors.

Well, golf clubs do warn golfers to park at their own risk.

Article courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, patron of the Open Championship.