In polls of our favourite major events it’s nearly always our home event, The Open Championship, that comes out on top. But why does it hold such a dear place in our hearts?
One very obvious reason we love The Open Championship is our national pride. It’s one of few events where the world’s best gather on our doorstep and the chance to watch them slog it out live or on the television at agreeable viewing hours is a perfect combination.
Having watched the first six months of the season swing by and the tour’s top stars destroy manicured courses in perfect conditions week-in week-out, we like to see them cope with the sort of conditions we play in on a regular basis. Sideways rain and three club winds are just two of the tests that rarely turn up at majors away from The Open, but which could well be seen at Royal Liverpool, also known as Hoylake, next week.
A different kind of examination altogether comes from the course. Whether it be Royal St Georges in the south, or Carnoustie in the north, links golf is intertwined within the DNA of The Open. More than that, the humps, hollows, swales and pot bunkers are its soul, and never disappoint in capturing our imagination and inspiring the sort of shot-making most tournament directors can only dream of.
Need we say more? The race for the Claret Jug has a knack of creating Sunday’s like none other we’ve ever seen. Who can forget poor old Jean van de Velde and Adam Scott collapsing when it was seemingly easier to win.
Then there are the times when two heavyweights go head-to-head, with the unforgettable 1977 Duel in the Sun at Turnberry between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus’ considered by many to be the finest tournament played. Though, were it not for a 72nd hole three putt 32 years later, Watson could have eclipsed even his own greatest achievement at the same venue.
Could there be a more fitting place to bid farewell or announce yourself on the scene than at The Open Championship? From Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson’s farewell waves from the Swilcan Bridge at St Andrews, to Justin Rose’s infamous pitch-in at Royal Birkdale in 1998, iconic images and Open Championships go together like fish and chips.
The most memorable major championships involve one or more of the game’s greats lighting up the course and thankfully, Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and most recently Phil Mickelson have all won at The Open Championship. This list alone makes it the most prestigious major going.