When the Open Championship is played at St.Andrews it is a very special occasion. From Doug Sanders missing a 3ft putt on the last to win the title in 1970, to Seve’s joy at holing the birdie putt on 18 to effectively clinch the 1984 title. The year 2000 saw a young Tiger Woods win by 8 shots and Jack’s farewell wave on the Swilken Bridge in 2005 still lives long in the memory.
This years championship saw mixed weather conditions and strong winds on Friday afternoon resulting in 10 groups returning at 6:30am on Saturday morning to finish their rounds but not before Tom Watson said his likely farewell to St.Andrews late on Friday night to a wonderful reception from the spectators who stayed on late to see him on the Swilken Bridge and like Jack he did not disappoint with a wonderful birdie on the last.
The scene was set for a fascinating weekend’s play. Everyone thought Louis would come back to the field and we would have a tight finish come Sunday, but this guy can play. He held his lead with strong nerve all weekend and when the lead was cut to 3 shots after 8 holes on Sunday his response was to eagle the 9th. Casey’s challenge fell apart at the 12th a straight forward par 4, where a visit to the gorse resulted in a triple bogey 7 and left Louis with an 8 shot lead, he would eventually win by 7 and was a worthy winner of the claret jug.
It was my pleasure to escort an exclusive group travelling with PerryGolf that were housed in the Fairmont St.Andrews during the Open before joining the Mega Yacht Harmony II on Monday to continue their tour around Scotland’s famous northern links venues. My personal experience of the Open is one to remember. A kind invite from an R&A member saw me in the most privileged position of watching the leading groups start out their rounds from the large window in the R&A clubhouse overlooking the 1st tee. Tiger hit a 3 wood that never left grandstand height, a low stinger. A wonderful lunch followed in the company of David Lema, son of champagne Tony who won the Open in 1964 in St.Andrews with Tip Anderson on the bag and Arnold’s putter in the bag.
The atmosphere around the 18th green is truly electric even with a run away winner. The Old Course can still test the best players in the world as long as the wind blows (which is generally does) and long may it continue to provide historic moments that live long in the memory.