The famous Old Course at St Andrews is ready to host the world’s best players as they do battle in the 144th Open Championship.
The Home of Golf
The Old Course, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.
A golf course created by the elements of nature – not man – and widely considered by many as the home of golf ever since the first blow in anger on its hallowed fairways in the early 1400’s.
You don’t get much more special than this and although our American friends across the Atlantic would strongly disagree, you won’t find a better advertisement for the game of golf than four days of intense Open Championship competition on this magnificent playing field.
Thursday couldn’t come sooner.
The 2010 Open
South Africans look back fondly on the previous Open that took place at St. Andrews in 2010 as it was the moment that Louis Oosthuizen announced himself to the world with an emphatic seven stroke victory to claim the Claret Jug.
Oosthuizen learnt quickly on that occasion that when a golf course is created by the elements of nature, it must rely on the elements of nature to be its protector, as he took advantage of fortunate weather conditions on his allotted tee times on the Thursday and Friday to lay the platform.
Of course, so did half the field so let’s not take anything away from King Louis’ victory, but the point remains that 25 mile an hour winds with heavy rains in the morning can be quickly replaced by sunny skies in the afternoon.
A winner this weekend in all likelihood will need the element of luck with the weather together with luck with the bounce of the ball.
Jordan Spieth attempts to make history
21 year old Jordan Spieth certainly got lucky at the U.S. Open last month when fellow American Dustin Johnson three putted from 10 foot to hand Spieth his second major of 2015 and with conditions at St. Andrews likely to be similar to what he overcame at the U.S. Open, he has to be a strong favourite again.
It’s probably history more than weather and competition that will count against him though as he attempts to join Ben Hogan who is the only golfer in history to have won the Masters, U.S. Open and Open in the same calendar year.
On current form many believe that Spieth’s greatest obstacle to victory is defending Open Champ and world number one, Rory McIlroy. However, after rupturing ankle ligaments in a friendly soccer game with friends, McIlroy withdrew late Thursday night meaning fans won’t be treated to another course joint-record 63 that he fired in his first round at St. Andrews in 2010.
On the face of things this appears to be a good thing for Spieth, however, many believe he is at his best under a strong challenge. For the neutral, hopefully there will be no shortage of challengers stepping up to the plate in the absence of McIlroy.
South Africans in the hunt
When the dust had settled at the U.S. Open last month, three South Africans – Louis Oozthuizen (2nd), Branden Grace (4th) and Charl Schwartzel (7th) – were reflecting on a top ten finish but also what might have been.
Particularly in the cases of Oosthuizen and Grace, with the former bouncing back from a disappointing 7 over on day one to then go 10 under in the remaining three rounds. Had the U.S Open been decided on days two to four – Louis would quite simply have blown the rest of the field away on his march to victory.
Grace – who has declared his love for Links golf having grown up on the fairways of Fancourt – was tied with Spieth for the lead on the tee of his 70th hole, before an erratic tee shot left him with a double bogey effectively ending his tournament hopes.
Four consistent rounds – and coping with the pressure in the final two – seem to be the recipe for success if any of the nine South Africans in the field are going to add to our previous ten Open victories. The most recent of which came in 2012 at the hands of Ernie Els.
The most open Open in years
Currently all four golfing majors are in the hands of two individuals – McIlroy and Spieth. Despite this, picking a winner for the Open – or any tournament nowadays – is a lottery as the surge of young talent across the globe continues to jostle for pole position.
Take the first two majors of this year as an example. Only Cameron Smith – with a tied fourth placing at the U.S. Open – finished in the top 10 but was ranked outside of the top 50 in the World before the tournament.
In fact, at the Masters, only one man finishing in the top twenty was ranked outside of the top 50 in the World.
That man was Tiger Woods!
Add this together with the fact that since November last year there have been 73 different tournaments on the European and US tours that have yielded no less than 55 different winners, and you begin to see that a betting man might be better placed buying a lottery ticket than predicting a winner!
Three interesting facts
– This marks Tom Watson’s 41st and final participation in the Open. Watson is a five time champion and the only player to win the Claret Jug on five different courses, none of which were at St. Andrews. Maybe worth a flutter this weekend at odds of 250 to 1!
The First Open Championship took place at Prestwick Golf Club in 1860 which saw Willie Park snr. triumph over the field of eight!
– Tiger Woods (1996), Justin Rose (1998) and Rory McIlroy (2007) are all winners of the Silver medal which is awarded to the highest placed amateur in the field.
– Thursday June 16th – never before will Ivor Robson’s voice be sweeter.
The Sultan of Swing
The Sultan of Swing is a co-founder of golfchamps.net – the world’s first live scoring golf prediction game. Why not sign up for their Open tournament and give yourself the chance to win a Titleist 915 driver or new Titleist golf bag?
Matt Cooper is in Rabat all this week, reporting from the Trophee Hassan II and Lalla Meryem Cup at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.
Welshman Bradley Dredge and Alvaro Quiros of Spain both shot five-under-par 67s to lead the way after the opening day of the Trophee Hassan II
South Africa’s Nicole Garcia was in sparkling form on day one of the Ladies European Tour event at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat.
Matt Cooper is in Rabat for the Trophee Hassan II. He caught up with a French golfer now coaching in Morocco.
Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas attended fellow PGA Tour pro Smylie Kaufman’s wedding, and it looks like they had a great time.
With the European Tour in Morocco this week, Dave Tindall heads to Marrakech and is amazed by the top-class golf on offer to the UK visitor.
Young golf talents showed they were made of stern stuff as they came through the Beast from the East to claim a coveted place on the Foxhills Foundation.