Open Championship 2013 Blog
It is five o’clock in the afternoon and I have just finished a walk around the back nine of Muirfield and I can say without any doubt whatsoever that this course is now the finest stage I have ever seen for an Open Championship.
Muirfield is a quality lay-out but the tweaks by the R&A, the new tees, the occasional revamped bunker and the weather over the last two weeks have come together to offer a truly sensational links.
No wonder Peter Dawson, R&A chief exec, was almost drooling yesterday when he came in to chat about this Open. “It is the best course set-up of my time, ” he said and for once this was no hype.
So the stage is superb and now all we need are the principle actors to strut their stuff properly when play begins.
Tiger Woods remains, as ever, favourite but you may get him at 11/1 and this means he is more odds against than ever before this century.
Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, says he is very happy with his life and feels he is getting closer to a return to the sensational form that has brought him two Majors so swiftly. However, the wee man seems fairly lacklustre about his chances this week.
It is not that he being downbeat, just realistic. Fact is that while he hopes to be a contender of some sort come Sunday the accent for now is on ‘hope’.
Funnily enough, I feel that he is deliberately underplaying his hand.
Even before the switch to Nike equipment McIlroy was an unpredictably mercurial golfer, a young man capable of stroking the highest plateaux of the old game but also susceptible to hangdog moments that turned into hours.
It seems that McIlroy is now destined to be a player who is either in the thick of the action or nowhere near it. There are few, if any, in betweens for this young man.
What is important to note is that the long range forecast is for settled weather, not too hot, not too cold, just nice and in the middle.
The wind is never going to rise above a gentle breeze. For McIlroy this is very good news indeed.
Despite growing up in blustery Ulster I have seen few signs of him being anything other than a very average wind player so that if ever he is going to win one of these things then it is going to be in these benign conditions.
We’ll see. There will be 156 players yomping over these wonderful acres and while not all of them can win an Open, at least fifty are in with a shout.
By the end of play on the first day we should have a slightly clearer idea of who these golfers are. What we can say with certainty is that none of them will ever have played a better links than this one. Enjoy