With The 144th Open Championship almost upon us, we look at seven key reasons why we all love this, the greatest individual tournament in our sport.
1 – The Links
There is nothing in world golf to compare to the links. The unpredictable nature of the terrain and the weather makes for compelling competition and enthralling viewing. The conditions demand the players display creativity and employ a clear strategy. And, with the courses having been in existence for, sometimes, hundreds of years, they belong as part of the landscape rather than having been thrust upon it.
2 – The History
This will be the 145th Open Championship, a tournament first contested in 1860. Over those 155 years, the event has been won at some point by almost all of the legends of our sport. From Old Tom Morris to Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones to Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Watson, Ballesteros and Woods, this tournament represents the pinnacle of the men’s game. Each player will feel the weight of that great history resting on his shoulders when he tees it up in front of the Troon patrons. It makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck…
3 – The Qualifying Process
There are a huge number of routes into the tournament and, because of the regional and final qualifying tournaments, it remains “open.” Young guys who have never played in a professional event before have earned the right to compete against the very best players on planet golf over one of the world’s most historic golf courses… That’s pretty cool.
4 – All day golf
No Ivor this year (he retired at St Andrews in 2015) but there’s nothing better than a proper championship such as this when, come Thursday, the first three-ball will strike off at 6.32am and the last group won’t get going until 4.13pm. If they take five hours, (which sadly they probably will,) that will mean almost 15 hours of golf! And, through the various media channels available, you’ll be able to watch, or follow, all of it. If you’re lucky enough to be in Troon this week – you could (theoretically) be out on the links to catch 15 hours of live action… although you might have to be stretchered off at the end of it.
See our video looking at some outside chances for The Open…
5 – The buzz
Wherever The Open travels to, the town or surrounding area becomes consumed by Open fever. Whether St Andrews or Southport, Sandwich or St Annes, golf takes over for a week and local businesses, pubs, restaurants and shops embrace the sport. People arrive from all over the world to watch and be part of this great event, and the buzz of excitement is palpable. People who wouldn’t normally even think of the golf talk about the favourites, the weather conditions and whether Tiger could come back to his best… The event energises people and place.
6 – The inevitable unlikely contender
It seems like every year, a little known, or little fancied player will make an appearance on the leaderboard at some point during the week. Whether a young amateur posts a great first round, or a veteran rolls back the years to make the cut and threaten the leaders on the weekend, the unpredictability of The Open means that almost any player in the field could have a run at it if they find their best game at the right time. Anybody fancy a flutter on Taichi Teshima?
7 – Watching them struggle
When the weather turns nasty and the wind gets up, it can be heartening to see the world’s best toil against the challenging conditions. Let’s not be coy, we all enjoy a spot of schadenfreude don’t we? Most of the year, these guys play in perfect weather, over perfectly manicured fairways to receptive surfaces. How they cope when the wind is threatening to blow them to oblivion displays just how much grit and ability they really have.