Tuesday, July 19, 2016


The Open

The Open, that golf tournament played at various locations in the United Kingdom, wrapped up on Sunday afternoon.

The final pairing of Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson was electrifying. Both had distanced themselves from the rest of the pack after the end of the third round. And then it came down to the final day, even down to the final holes. Stenson birdied 14, 15, and 16 to move ahead of Mickelson.

Stenson played the round of his life. He broke the record of Open Championship strokes below par of 19 under, held by Tiger Woods. He shot 63, tying a major championship scoring record. He ran in long putts when required, obviously tough on Phil. As the day wore on, Phil became increasingly frustrated. His complaints about cameras and distractions came though loud and clear. Interestingly, they were ignored by the announcers.

Stenson is the first Swede to win a major championship. Another fellow countryman, Jesper Parnevik, (the guy who turns up the front of his cap), came close to winning, but fell just short. Parnevik sent Stenson a message: “Go out and finish what I didn’t manage to finish.”

The Open, the Masters, the U. S. Open, and the PGA Championship are the Majors. Of course there is a fair amount of coin that goes with a win-more than a million dollars. The winner also gets to keep the trophy, the Claret Jug, as it is called. But just for a year. It is a replica, and the original rests on permanent display in the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse.

It was just a fortnight ago that we walked the course at Troon. The locale is wonderful, on the West Coast of Scotland, on the Firth of Clyde, off the Irish Sea. Freighters can be seen entering the channel leading to Glasgow. Police on horseback casually patrol the beach area, keeping those who might try to sneak into the grounds at bay. Across the water lie two islands: Arran and the Ailsa Craig. I an sure you will be pleased to know that most curling stones are quarried there!

   Marco Dawson                                                         Padraig Harrington

I sat in the stands at the first hole, watching players tee off in the practice round. It is a casual day, when players will toss four or five balls into traps, or along the greens, to try to learn the lay of the land. I watched Padraig Harrington and Marco Dawson tee off. Harrington is a former Open champ, and Dawson is always in the running for victories on the Champions Tour.

                                        The first fairway, beside the beach

Bubba Watson did not have his finest hour. But he did take the time to scratch his name on the peak of Joanne's Open cap. Nice gesture. 

Naturally, weather plays a factor in The Open. Tee times are critical, because wind and rain are always expected in links golf in Scotland. I climbed down into a pot bunker just to get the experience. I likely would resort to the old tried and true method to get out: a handful of sand in my left, the ball in my right. Works every time.

                                                           In the Pot Bunker

                                                           At the Swilcan Bridge

We went across the country to tour St. Andrews as well. It has been the site of many Opens, and has a fine history. The British Golf Museum is located near the first tee. A must is to go to the Swilcan Bridge for photos. But since there are several courses on the grounds, it is not uncommon to hear, “Fore!”

                                                   The media Area

It is a tournament that captures world-wide attention. The media room is enormous, perhaps ten times the size of the media area at the Canadian Open.

                                                   Allan and Leeanne Stitt

It was a pleasure to be accompanied by local golf expert Al Stitt on the excursions. He had played several of the Scottish courses, and shared his knowledge with us. “Stay out of the fescue,” he warned. That is a nasty bit of tall grass just off the fairways.

Many of the golfers who played The Open are now in Toronto for the Canadian Open, to be played at Glen Abbey in Oakville. Well worth a trip!

James Hurst

July 18, 2016.  

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