Open Championship 2013 blog

WATCHING Gary Player and Tony Jacklin meet is a bit like watching two old bull elephants collide in the bush.

There’s a bit of tentative stuff, a lot of mickey taking and eventually even more laughter. I suppose this begs the question ‘do elephants actually laugh?’ but setting that aside for the moment… the Gary & Tony Show yesterday was great good fun.

Player was on American radio when Jacko popped up to watch. Player waved him into the booth, stuck a set of headphones on the Englishman’s head and immediately launched into a rant.

“Listeners, ” he said. “We’ve got the great Tony Jacklin with us now and let me tell you this – they made Nick Faldo a Sir but they haven’t made Mr. Jacklin Sir Tony yet. What are they waiting for? If the Queen hears, this I hope she takes the hint and makes Tony a Knight really soon. No one in golf deserves the honour more.”

Jacklin, meanwhile can’t wait for the golf to start. “This is a real links here this week. It looks like a links and it’ll play like one too especially in this wind. Someone said to me today they were worried about the speed of the greens and I said I was more worried about the speed of the fairways.”

At which point, Player said he would prefer it if Muirfield was a little softer. “This place is going to play like Hoylake did in 2006 when Tiger Woods won without having to use a driver. They’ll all be using irons off every tee as things stand this week and I think the public would rather see them have to use the driver. A six iron might be too much off some of these tees.”

Not sure where you stand on this debate but I’m with Jacklin. This browned-up Muirfield looks a perfect links right now. Yes, of course, there will be a lot of iron play but there will be even more imagination needed if anyone is to make a decent score. You never know for sure, but this Open Championship is shaping up to be a classic at this range.

Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, wants the wind to blow even harder. Turns out the amiable, lanky American loves the fun of links golf. “The tougher it blows the more I’ll enjoy it, ” he grinned. “I just love the creativity demanded by this sort of golf, it’s such a contrast to our game back home. For me, the key to scoring well will be the par 5s. These are the birdie holes but the par 3s are really tough.”

And finally, a last word on Sir Nick Faldo who, you may have noticed, was critical of Rory McIlroy who, he said, needs to focus more on his golf. Both men will be picking up awards at the Golf Writers’ Dinner on Tuesday night and it wouldn’t surprise me if Rory impishly asks Snick how many wives he had while he was focusing so much on the old game? The answer, in case you don’t know, is three.  Know where I’m going with this?