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What’s So Great About The Open Championship?

Old Tom Morris

Old Tom Morris Won The Open!

You really have to ask? Well, at least you picked an opportune time, since the 141st playing of golf’s oldest championship starts in just a few hours at England’s Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s.

So what if this year’s venue sounds like an English breakfast tee?

That’s part of what makes the Open so awesome.

So do these things:[list style=”check”]

  • Its sheer unpredictability. Thanks to the “WTF-was-that?” bounces of links golf and sudden squalls that turn paradise into Mordor, “anything can happen” isn’t just a lazy cliché.
  • No-names on the leaderboard. Ever heard of Adilson da Silva, Rafa Echenique or Anarban Lahiri? Me neither, so expect one of them to lead after the first round.
  • The dulcet tones of first-tee starter Ivor Robson. Music to my ears.
  • Peter Alliss’s dry-as-gin observations. See above.
  • Everybody starts on No. 1. Tee times go from 6:19 a.m. till 4:11 p.m. local time. It makes for long day for Mr. Robson, which is why he eschews food and drink for the duration.
  • British pubs! I’ll have a Fuller’s ESB, please.
  • The holes have funky names (like Turnberry’s “Tickly Tap” and Troon’s “Postage Stamp”) and so do the bunkers (like “Principal’s Nose” and “Hell,” both on the Old Course at St. Andrews).
  • Some years the fairways are burnt-out brown, others they’re lush emerald green.
  • Few (if any) courses in the Open rota have sprinkler systems.
  • It takes an act of Parliament to enact a weather delay. Which the Queen may veto, if she’s feeling crabby.
  • TV coverage starts at 4:30 a.m. Thursday on the east coast – and 1:30 a.m. out west. (Cough.) Can you say “sick day”? (Cough, cough.)
  • The final round ends Sunday at 1:30 p.m. eastern, barring a playoff or weather stoppage (as if!) — leaving plenty of time to get in 18 afterward.
  • It’s the only major won by Old Tom Morris. Or Young Tom, for that matter.
  • It’s the only major won by Darren Clarke, who’s still buying rounds of Guinness a year later.
  • Despite all the quirks, it’s usually won by a great player. Going back to 1959, these chaps won at least two Opens apiece: Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman. Maybe you’ve heard of ’em?
  • Except when it’s not. See Curtis, Ben and Hamilton, Todd for recent examples. Who doesn’t love the occasional underdog? Speaking of which, you gotta love Mardan Mamat and Juvic Pagunsan at 1,000/1 odds.
  • We get to marvel at the true artistry of golfers like Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, who must adapt to a style that’s totally different from the typical tour venue.
  • Seve Ballesteros made birdie from a parking lot at Lytham en route to victory in 1979. A parking lot.
  • The hearty, knowledgeable patrons. Especially when it’s held in Scotland.
  • The occasional streaker. Paging Peter Jacobsen…
  • The lighthouse at Turnberry.
  • The railway at Troon.
  • The Barry Burn at Carnoustie.
  • Everything at St. Andrews.
  • The crowd collapsing into the fairway on the 72nd hole.
  • The winner’s title, coolest in all of sports: Champion Golfer of the Year.[/list]

Any more questions?

Enjoy The Open!

Daniel MitchellDaniel Mitchell is a golf writer and contributor who lives in Jupiter, Fla., a few miles from Tiger Woods as the crow flies but worlds away in every other respect. An avid golfer since age 12, Mitchell carries a (shaky) single-digit handicap, investing far more time in his dogs than his swing.

You can read his regular musings at

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