Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Open Championship - the greatest of them all?


Turnberry Ailsa Course is a very popular links course, often quoted by many in lists of favorites, often top 3-5. I cannot say that it holds such a place for me, but I understand its appeal. It is full of views and lovely, less quirky, more fair golf holes than perhaps any other links course. I won't get into that too deeply as that is not the point of a competition, but the play is rather more important. I admire the R&A for their course sets-up lately as weather has become the final determinant of difficulty the past few years.

Friday has seen the exit of Tiger Woods, now two Open championships in a row without him on the weekend - and I feel that golf is the better for it. The Open Championship is truly a celebration of golf and all of its unfairness and inequities. This year as last we are also seeing that links - the birthplace of golf - is the great equalizer. Last Year senior professional golfer Greg Norman entered the final round tied for the lead and then faltered. This year Saturday morning will bring us a round in which the oldest golfer ever to lead a Major championship test, already five-time champion golfer Tom Watson, less than two months shy of his sixtieth birthday will be in the final group. In no sport but golf are we able to retain our heroes and champions so late into life.

With the real possibility of winning and more importantly his own belief that he can indeed win a record-tying sixth time engraving on the Claret Jug suspends fiction. Extrordinary, amazing, astounding, Epic - words will fail to describe the monumental achievement of sports history that such an event would become. It is indeed all the better that the possibility of endless replays showing Tiger Woods round faltering in fiftieth place - just for rating points - is not available to the producers of television. No disrespect to Tiger's to-date achievements, but this possibility for Watson far exceeds anything Woods will ever do. The magnitude of winning a second Open event at Turnberry, the first immortalized as The Duel in the Sun (after winning a Senior Open Event there) widely considered the most epic Open championship finale is heretofore unimaginable.

This is history I want to see. I cannot wait to see.

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