We wait eight long months between the final major of the year, and the first major of the next year, but in mid major season (not talking about you, Wichita State-Gonzaga-Butler, calm down) they come at you fast. The British Open is situated perfectly between the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, and is the biggest golf event of the entire summer. Gone are the complaints about the course setup, the ego of the USGA, and the carnage of the U.S. Open. In comes golf at its purest.
It may seem like hyperbole, but history is literally at stake here. Since the majors have been played in the order that they are currently in, no human has ever won the first three legs of the grand slam. Jordan Spieth would have a chance to do that this week if he were human, but six wins in nine months has me questioning whether he’s human or a man made robot from the R&D department at Under Armour. The opportunity presented itself for me to attend the oldest championship in golf this weekend, and the fact that we’re talking about the Old Course, combined with this truly once in a lifetime chance at history, the decision was a no brainer.
It's incredible to me how little play Spieth going for the Slam is getting outside golf circles. If Tiger had even sniffed the Slam in…
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) July 14, 2015
I couldn’t me much more Pro-Spieth (or Pro-Porter for that matter), so it shouldn’t come at a surprise that I 100% with this statement. Granted, I don’t watc- (wait one second……*puts on flannel shirt and lens-less glasses, strokes overgrown beard*), I don’t watch much TV, but I feel like this should be a bigger deal than it is. The fact that a 21 year old American is doing things on a golf course that even Tiger never did has been beaten to death over our heads by the golf enthusiasts, but my God, we get amped every year for the possibility of an animal winning three races in a row, yet nary a focus on a human doing un-human things. Maybe this is the week this all changes.
I’m going to include the normal disclaimer that there is so much coverage of the majors by much better writers than us, that are on top of their game on weeks like this. So it’s difficult to come up with a fresh angle that no one has considered, but we’ll do our best. You can call me many things, but please don’t call me a hero (see Venn diagram below):
The Old Course at St. Andrews
Ever heard of it? For almost six hundred years, St. Andrews was known as “The Home of Golf” (a title which was passed down to Patrick Reed as soon as he entered the real estate game). The club is owned by the Fife Council, and operated by St Andrews Links Trust, who had a scare in 1797 when they went bankrupt, only to receive a TARP bailout a reprieve from the Town Council of St. Andrews to allow rabbit farming on the course (all of this courtesy of Wikipedia). Then, in 1754, the whitest event in the history of the world took place, when “22 noblemen, professors, and landowners founded the Society of St Andrews Golfers.” It’s safe to assume that the entire Lumineers’ album was played at the initiation party, right? And Peyton Manning was there?
The course has obviously evolved over the years in many ways, but it’s still incredibly unique with it’s shared greens, and true outward/inward routing:
I’m confident in saying that this course is pretty straightforward, and rather easy for tour pros. The scoring will depend 100% on the weather, particularly the wind. (Shane Ryan has a great breakdown of how the weather is likely to play out this week). I’m betting on scores being low. It’s not going to be the JDC, but given the over/under of -12.5, I think someone beats that number.
When looking at the routing, and I can’t help but notice that almost every hole is shaped the exact same way: slightly left to right. One would think this would favor a fade, but you’ll also notice, at no point on this course can you miss right. It’s going to play soft, and it’s going to favor bombers. But hey, I’m sure that kickaround with your mates was a blast!
Barring an ex-pat contingent and father-son once in a lifetime golf trip patrons, the gallery is best summed up in this video:
The local caddie element has always been an interesting element to The Open Championship as well. Knowing the majority of caddies are responsible for their own Travel and Expense (such BS), many don’t make the trip across the pond with the pros using a local looper instead. I can’t wait for Tom Rinaldi to serenade us with a special that opens with the clinking of Guinness Glasses and closes with an emotional salute to one of St. Andrews’ finest, an ode to the birthplace of the game.
Overall, The Open Championship vibe is similar to nothing else in golf. Everything is different. The reactions of the crowd, the sound of the applause, and the ambiance is unparalleled in this sport, and to a certain extent, sports in general. As much as we pretend to hate Europe every two years for the three day Ryder Cup, this sport was founded on these islands, and their fans deserve a salute. Enjoy your week, lads.
Roddrick Muckelroy pretty much had things wrapped up by the weekend, carrying a four shot lead into Saturday after a pair of 66’s, extending his lead to six shots going into Sunday. Sergio and Rickie tried to provide some drama on Sunday (at one point Segio was two down heading to the 14th), but ultimately Rory was too much, keeping it firmly between the mayonnaise and mustard down the stretch for a two shot victory and his third career major championship.
I’ve been asked who my sleepers, are, but I can’t picture a sleeper winning. The game is too deep at the moment, and there is one guy that is deeper than them all.
Spieth (6/1) – I just can’t not. I’m worried about the draw he got (see link to Shane Ryan’s piece above), but I can’t not pick him at this point. I feel like this is going to me more like the U.S. Open, where he sort of wonders around near the top of the leaderboard, and emerges triumphantly with bagpipes blaring as he strides down the 18th fairway while adoring fans hurl roses from the gallery (people still do that right?). Then this is the scene when he returns from Europe:
Spieth is my pick, but this is the part where I get really chalky. I love the next two guys on the board in Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler as well. I giggled at Tiger being 4th on the board at 17/1. I equally love Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson’s chances as well. I love Koepka. I love everyone. Every time these majors roll around I fall in love with the entire field and get frustrated trying to make picks until I realize the glorious state of the game that we’re currently in. It can’t be said often enough. It’s going to be a pu pu platter of big names on the leaderboard the entire weekend, and I need it to just be Thursday already.
- I’m done with the British Open vs. Open Championship debate.
- Regrettably, I will not be able to live tweet the coverage this weekend. I’ll be watching Thursday from my hotel room in DC, Friday from my flat in Amsterdam, but will be off to Scotland to spray some sauce of my own, and witness an Open Championship at St. Andrews in person. The rest of the NLU gang should have you covered: Tron Carter, Big Randy, Young Neil. There’s also a lot of other people that I would recommend you follow during the week, but I hate listing them out because it’s inevitable that I would miss some people.
- Since I won’t be around, I might as well get the Patrick Reed jokes out of the way now. He’s flying way under the radar this week, and I think we should start being concerned about whether or not we’re going to have an international incident on our hands this week. Wearing the scripting below, and majestically galloping around on a horse and stabbing players with five irons like a spear is an act of war on foreign soil. Does he even make it on the plane back to the states, or is he shipped directly to the International Criminal Court in The Hague?
- This week marks the the one year anniversary of #PrayForTedScott (see bullet #4 here). It’s been a long year for you Teddy, but we think about you every day.
Enjoy the week, everyone. Spieth be with you.