The 150th Open is expected to draw in record-breaking crowds to witness a new generation of golfing superstars take on the championship’s most revered and oldest course in a battle for golf’s most coveted prize. But who will come away with the Claret Jug on this most auspicious of years?
The Open Championship’s return to St Andrews, in recent history, offers the prospect of change, while also many rows deep as fans crane their necks to catch a glimpse of Woods, Sir Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin et al, for many of whom it will be there last appearance at an Open. There won’t be a dry in the house.
A WIDE OPEN OPEN
While the eight other clubs on the R&A’s preferred list of host venues have to wait a decade to stage the game’s oldest major, St Andrews has that privilege conferred on it every five years, or six in the most recent instance, owing the switch to tally up with this 150th anniversary returning to the Home of Golf.
With such frequency comes not only the chance to build up a rich and varied history, but for players to build up a decent amount of course form over a somewhat idiosyncratic layout which, give or take the creation of a few back tees, has remained largely unchanged for centuries.
The top of the world ranking is currently packed with in-form golfers, many of whom are short on links golf experience, but long on quality. That certainly goes for world no.1 Scottie Scheffler, with just one previous outing to his name in the oldest major, although a tied eighth finish at St George’s last year points to a man who can adapt to any playing conditions that come his way. A near miss at last month’s US Open shows that the reigning Masters champion poses a threat when and wherever he tees it up. There shouldn’t be any near misses when you play startguthaben casino
To jog your memory, if it needs jogging, Rory McIlroy has spent much of his career raving about how much he loves the Old Course, and what course form he has there is pretty decent. In the 2010 Open at St Andrews, when still the spiritual Home of Golf, never fails to excite and enthral, and this July’s renewal will be no different, although with it being the 150th anniversary, there will be an extra air of magic, as the largest crowd ever to gather at an Open assembles on the East Fife coast.
Ask the players, or anyone who has been to watch, and they’ll quickly tell you that an Open at St Andrews is like no other. From the double greens to the world’s widest opening and closing hole, from the Road Hole bunker to the Swilken Bridge, the course is littered with familiar furniture.
Throw in the party atmosphere of a university town where pubs only just outscore the number of shops selling tartan trousers and you have the makings of a great, big week-long golfing party.
Tickets for this year’s renewal, like the two Opens before them, have been pre-sold, so while there will sadly be no option to pay on the day, the demand for tickets outstripped supply by a factor of five to one, ensuring that the 150th Open will be break all attendance records for golf’s oldest championship, with the R&A expecting over 290,000 fans to enjoy all or some of what has turned into a week-long festival of golf.
With many pros enjoying 30-year plus careers these days, and former champions being given a bye, an Open at the Old Course offers an unchanging backdrop to a surprisingly consistent cast list. It’s a cosy, comfort blanket of a tournament. Yet this year, more than perhaps any other being reminded of the past. Tiger Woods, back in Major action again following his return to competition at the Masters and the PGA Championship, has vowed to be back for what may well turn out to be his Open swan song.
And while it will be beyond fanciful to think that, at 46, and with an injury list as long as your arm, that he will be able to lift another Claret Jug, that won’t stop the crowds from cheering him on every tee and every green, as he plays in what will might be his final Open at the Home of Golf.
Woods will also be attendance at special event being held over the Old Course on Monday, July 11, when the R&A is staging The Celebration of Champions, a special four-hole competition played over 1st, 2nd, 17th and 18th holes, with the field made up of past Open Champions, women’s Major Champions, male and female Amateur Champions and Golfers with Disability Champions. Expect the galleries to be many rows deep as fans crane their necks to catch a glimpse of Woods, Sir Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin et al, for many of whom it will be there last appearance at an Open. There won’t be a dry in the house.