Golf’s best end major year with The 148th Open at Royal Portrush

This week, for the first time since 1951, The Open returns to Northern Ireland. The field tees off Thursday at The Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush beginning at 1:35 a.m. EDT (6:35 a.m. local time).

This marks the second time golf’s oldest championship has been held outside Scotland and England. Modifications have been made to the venerable links, which was designed by Harry S. Colt. Starting their project in 2015, esteemed architects MacKenzie and Ebert used land from the adjacent Valley course to build two new holes – the 7th and 8th – specifically for the tournament.

Francesco Molinari is the defending champion. Rory McIlroy, who grew up in nearby Hollywood, is the betting favorite and shot a course-record 61 at Royal Portrush in the 2005 North of Ireland Championship. Since his victory in 2014 at Royal Liverpool, McIlroy hasn’t finished outside the top-5 in The Open, either.

Brooks Koepka, seeking his second major title of the year and fifth consecutive top-2 finish, has loyal caddie – and longtime Royal Portrush member – Ricky Elliott on the bag. Tiger Woods hasn’t played since Pebble Beach. He’s paired with Patrick Reed and Matt Wallace and tees off at 10:10 a.m. EDT on Thursday. Dustin Johnson hopes to bag an elusive second major after a series of close calls.

Expect to see chilly temperatures in the 50s and 60s, daily rain and of course, wind. Severe changes in elevation enhance the challenge at Royal Portrush and experience is a vital tool for those hoping to hoist the Claret Jug. The average age of the past 10 champions is 35 years, 3 months. The competitors won’t be able to get away with purposely overshooting the 18th green, either. They’ll face a devilish lie in the drop zone on the 474-yard-par 4 that finishes a diabolical three-hole closing stretch that’s certain to finish The Open hopes of more than one competitor.

PerryGolf is an Authorised Ticket Provider for The Open and proud to escort guests to the final round of this year’s championship after they’ve played some of the finest links in the British Isles such as Royal County Down, Royal Birkdale and Castle Stuart. There’s time to reserve your spot on a variety of Cruises, Escorted Tours and Customized offerings available for 2020 and 2021.

The 150th Open at St. Andrews in 2021 is certain to be a special experience in the Home of Golf. On one particular Escorted Tour, PerryGolf guests will play memorable rounds on a quartet of courses that have combined to host The Open on 35 occasions and wrap their trip by attending the final two rounds of the championship. PerryGolf is also pleased to take golfers to test their game on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush as part of our new Irish Links Golf Cruise, which has offerings in 2020 and 2021.

https://www.perrygolf.com/escorted-tour/scotland-the-150th-open-st-andrews-turnberry-2021.php

The new, condensed PGA Tour schedule put in place for the 2018-19 season means that The Open is the final major of the calendar year. It’s been a thrilling season, beginning with Woods’ exciting victory at The Masters, Koepka’s dominant performance at Bethpage and Gary Woodland’s flawless weekend to stave off Koepka at Pebble Beach. Still, the golf world has anticipated this championship at Royal Portrush ever since it was announced. The course is in excellent condition and certain to offer a stiff test. After a practice round earlier this week, the affable American pro Rickie Fowler avoided predicting a winning score due to the uncertain conditions ahead, saying simply that any round under par would be a good one.

Enjoy.

https://www.perrygolf.com/golfcruising/the-open-at-royal-st-georges-2020-golf-cruise-package.php

Portmarnock shines for Amateur; The 148th Open field taking shape

The 4th hole at Portmarnock is majestic.

The Amateur Championship (sometimes referred to as the British Amateur) was held last weekend at Portmarnock Golf Club, crowning an Irish champion, the 22-year-old James Sugrue in front of a large partisan gallery.

Sugrue joins an elite list of golf legends who have competed and won at Portmarnock, which is 10 miles north of Dublin City along a picturesque coastline. Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer partnered to win the Canada Cup in 1960 while Phil Mickelson and David Duval led the Americans to victory in the 1991 Walker Cup matches.

The course has played host to numerous championships over the last 120 years, beginning with the 1899 Irish Amateur Open Championship, won by John Ball, the finest amateur of the era, and was a regular site for the Irish Open from 1927 to 2003. The noted golf architect Martin Hawtree made minor renovations to the layout in 2003, stretching it to 7,466 yards and competitors in last week’s Amateur Championship raved about the course conditions.

Golfers who choose the Norman Flight on PerryGolf’s 2020 British Isles Golf Cruise (which includes attendance at The 149th Open at Royal St. George’s) will enjoy golf at Portmarnock and Royal Portrush, home of The 148th Open, which begins next month. They’ll play six rounds total on the 14-night voyage onboard the 690-guest Azamara Pursuit.

Golfers in the Lyle Flight will play two more of Ireland’s finest, the K Club Palmer Course – site of the 2006 Ryder Cup matches – and Royal County Down, which Golf Magazine in 2017 ranked No. 4 in the world – trailing only Pine Valley, Cypress Point and The Old Course at St. Andrews.

https://www.perrygolf.com/theopen/british-golf-the-open-championship-past-winners-champions.php

Alwoodley was Alister’s first masterpiece

Among the host sites were gems such as Panmure, located near Carnoustie on the east coast of Scotland. It’s the 16th oldest course in the world, designed by James Braid Jr. in 1845. With the championship being held in Ireland for the first time since 1951, having a regional qualifier at County Louth, a two-time Irish Open host, made perfect sense. Alwoodley is a heathland beauty and the first course designed by the legendary architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who was a charter member there. Harry S. Colt, a top architect of the era, approved MacKenzie’s layout, propelling a unparalleled career that produced Augusta National, Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne (West), Royal St. George’s and dozens more around the world.

Sprague’s earned a spot in the 156-man field at Royal Portrush by winning the Amateur Championship last week at Portmarnock. He can also expect invitations to the Masters and U.S. Open next year, assuming he maintains amateur status.

The quest to obtain a sacred spot in The Open began in earnest last Monday as regional qualifying took place at 13 courses scattered around the British Isles.

PerryGolf guests experience thrilling moments, create lifetime memories and build lasting friendships at these courses in England, Ireland and Scotland on Custom Tours each year from April – October.

https://www.perrygolf.com/theopen/british-golf-the-open-championship-packages.php

Final Qualifying for The Open occurs July 2nd at four different sites. (Golfers wishing to attend The Open can purchase tickets from PerryGolf, an authorised ticket provider). The top three finishers at each location secure the final 12 spots in the 156-man field. Being selected as a final qualifying site is a prestigious honor for any course in the British Isles, of course.

Prince’s is adjacent to Royal St. George’s and was the site of Gene Sarazen’s 1932 victory in The Open. Fairmont St. Andrews is a popular choice for visitors to the Home of Golf and a combination of the Kittocks and Torrance courses will be used for the Final Qualifying. The ninth hole at St. Anne’s Old Links is considered one of the finest in England while Notts Hollinwell is a masterful Willie Park Jr. design.

The Royals & Beyond: Enjoy these Must Play Courses in England

Royal Birkdale is where Peter Thomson won the first and last of his five titles at The Open. Member of the rota since 1954, Jordan Spieth prevailed there in 2017.

The 148th Open ventures to Northern Ireland this summer for the first time since 1951, returning to the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush. (One golf spot remains on PerryGolf’s cruise that will take you to The Open). Like the rest of the golf world, we can’t wait to see the renovated links and are eager to watch the game’s best golfers face the stiff challenge presented by the course, conditions and elements.

Attend the The Open at Royal St. George’s in 2020 with PerryGolf 

PGA champion Brooks Koepka, World No. 2 Dustin Johnson and defending champion Francesco Molinari head the list of exempt players. As of today, 97 players have earned entry into the field either through qualifying at sites around the world or receiving an exemption based on tournament performance and world ranking. The final rounds of qualifying will take place in the weeks preceding the championship at sites around the U.K.

This quest for the Claret Jug has stirred curiosity across the British Isles, where The Open rotates between a strong roster of courses in Scotland and England.

The “Royals” in England are a diverse quartet of links, bolstered by a rich tradition and formidable architecture enabling them to withstand the game’s advances in technology and Mother Nature’s fierce hand. In addition, England has other fine courses, often overlooked, that are regularly used for Final Qualifying in The Open.

Before you let PerryGolf take you to play these venerable layouts where champions have been crowned and reborn, let’s examine seven of England’s finest courses.

Royal Birkdale – Since joining The Open rota in 1954, it’s been the most regular venue other than St. Andrews. The course also has played host to more championships and international events than any course in the world since World War II, including Walker Cups, Ryder Cups, Curtis Cups and Women’s and Senior Opens. Ranked No. 1 in England and top five in the U.K., Birkdale was formed in 1899 but the current links was established in 1922.

Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s – Bobby Jones won The Open here in its 1926 debut on this links in Lancashire. En route to The Open title in 1979, Seve Ballesteros literally got up-and-down from a parking lot, which perhaps served as origin of a phrase used around the world when referring to golfer’s great short games. Esteemed golf writer Bernard Darwin described Lytham as a ‘just beast.’ Locke, Player, Thomson and Els also won here.

Royal Liverpool – Most folks call it Hoylake because that’s the village where the course is located. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have fond memories of the course, which is site of The 151st Open in 2022, because each rode supreme ballstriking to a major championship victory there. Woods’ victory in 2006 was particularly emotional because it was his first major since his father, Earl, passed away.

Royal St. George’s – The 149th Open will be held here, nine years after Darren Clarke finally broke through and hoisted the Claret Jug on his 20th appearances. Maiden, the par-3 6th, is a spectacular vantage point for spectators due its large mounds surrounding the green and the wicked wind which can wreak havoc on a golfer’s approach. Greg Norman shot a record 64 to win one of his two titles here at the southernmost course in The Open rota.

Southport & Ainsdale – Twice a Ryder Cup host, S&A was designed by the prolific James Braid and fits seamlessly in the rolling linksland. Many who have qualified for The Open in recent years first had to master S&A for 36 holes in final qualifying. Established in 1906, we’re fond of the first hole, a par-3 measuring 204 yards from the tips and the clubhouse, which offers the ideal setting for a post-round beverage and rehashing.

Hillside – Another fixture on England’s Golf Coast in the area around Southport, the 7,029-yard course wanders up-and-down sandhills and through towering pines to create a tranquil setting – until you try to par some of the holes on this beauty, redesigned by Fred Hawtree in the 1960s. The European Tour’s professionals will try their skills here in the 2019 British Masters.

Formby – Since 1884, golfers from across the U.K. have enjoyed the challenge at Formby, which combines the best of links and parkland golf in a delightful array of variety. The shots required here force golfers to mesh skill and strategy as they meander through the pines. Navigate the undulating fairways, avoid the deep bunkers and handle the gusting winds and you might just solve this riddle.

The 147th Open at Carnoustie: Looking back and looking ahead

Once again, The Open delivered a compelling final round befitting golf’s oldest championship.

The 42-year-old Tiger Woods seized the lead – and the golf world’s attention – early in the back nine, adding fuel to an improbable comeback. Jordan Spieth fought valiantly to defend his title. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy thrilled the locals with spirited charges on the closing holes. In all, at least a half-dozen golfers battled atop the leaderboard as the holes dwindled and the sun began to dip over historic Carnoustie, which bared its teeth via strong breezes and hole locations tucked in corners.

As the dust from another divot drifted across the hard baked links, Francesco Molinari earned the Claret Jug with a brilliant 69, capping a incredible weekend during which he never made  a score worse than par. Molinari missed 12 greens in regulation in the final 36 holes and saved par every time. Known for consistent ballstriking it was this amazing scrambling that allowed him to become the first Italian golfer to claim a major championship. His victory extended a torrid run. Since missing the cut at The Players in May, he’s won three of six starts and finished runner-up twice to soar to No. 6 in the world and cement a spot on the European Ryder Cup team in September in France.

Molto bene, Francesco. Molto bene.

PerryGolf guests walked the fairways and followed the drama of The 147th Open on Sunday, enjoying a 12-day cruise that included golf at The Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry, Prestwick and site of The 148th Open next July, Royal Portrush.

PerryGolf guests tee off with the iconic Stevenson Lighthouse in the background at the Trump Turnberry Ailsa course, a member of The Open rota.

 

Equally spectacular is next year’s cruise through the British Isles and onward to The 148th Open on board the mid-sized luxury vessel, Azamara Journey.

The journey features golf at Royal County Down, consistently ranked top five in the world; Prestwick, site of The 1st Open and subsequent 11 championships; Royal Birkdale, where Palmer, Watson and Spieth each became Champion Golfer of the Year; K Club Ryder Cup Course, host of the 2006 matches.

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Of course, PerryGolf offers multiple options for golfers interested in traveling to The Open as it returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951. Choose from an array of tours and cruises catered to suit the specific needs of each guest, play golf on the most famous links in the world and experience hidden gems such as Carne and Ballyliffin, Glashedy Links – often referred to as the ‘Dornoch of Ireland.’

https://www.perrygolf.com/britishopen/british-open-golf-packages.php

Play four courses in The Open rota, including the Old Course at St. Andrews and Carnoustie, on this 6-night, 6-round Tour, available April – October 2019.

Or, look ahead and make plans to attend The 149th Open at Royal St. George’s, site of triumphs by Darren Clarke, Greg Norman and twice apiece by Walter Hagen and Harry Vardon.

It’s uncanny how The Open manages to deliver a thrilling, often unpredictable final round each year. The combination of phenomenal links, the Royal & Ancient’s excellent setup and a touch of Mother Nature provides the ultimate challenge for the best golfers in the world and thrilling action for spectators in the gallery and viewers at home. Let PerryGolf put you in the former category next year in Northern Ireland for what will certainly be a historic championship.

PerryGolf guests enjoy a welcome dinner onboard Azamara Journey as they cruise the British Isles and attend The Open at Carnoustie.

The Open field taking shape; PerryGolf takes you there in 2019 & 2020

The 147th Open at Carnoustie begins in 10 days. Final Qualifying was held last week at Notts (Hollinwell), Princes, St. Anne’s Old Links and Renaissance in the U.K., and continued last weekend on the PGA Tour where the top four finishers inside the top 12 at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier who were not already exempt punched their ticket to Scotland. Kelly Kraft, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Kokrak and Austin Cook earned their way into the field.

Ballyliffin’s Glashedy Links – and its sister Old Course – are popular featured options when PerryGolf visits Ireland’s northern coast. Glashedy Links proved an admirable host for the European Tour’s qualifier for The Open – the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Ryan Fox, Zander Lombard and Andy Sullivan added their name to the tee sheet at Carnoustie through their strong play at Ballyliffin.

The final two spots in The Open are reserved for the champions of the Scottish Open and John Deere Classic – if those players are not already in The Open field.

PerryGolf is pleased to offer an array of Escorted Tours, Custom Tours and Cruises for golfers interested in tackling the majestic links of The Open rota and sites of Final Qualifying that are sprinkled throughout the British Isles. In addition we’ll guide you through the U.K. and Ireland’s multitude of other venerable layouts, including the familiar world renowned designs and the delightful hidden gems. Every package presents attractive options in course selection and trip duration, catered to fit the specific needs of each guest.

Royal County Down is consistently ranked top-5 in the world.

Anyone wanting to experience the action and excitement of The Open next year as it makes a historic return to Royal Portrush, join host  PerryGolf co-founder Colin Dalgleish on a 12-night, 5-round voyage from Edinburgh to Southampton, including rounds at Royal Birkdale, Ailsa Turnberry and Royal County Down. Attend the final round of The 148th Open and watch the game’s best golfers battle for the Claret Jug. (See all the details below).

https://www.perrygolf.com/golfcruising/the-open-at-royal-portrush-2019-golf-cruise-package.php

PerryGolf also delivers several other appealing options for golfers aiming to play Ireland’s best and enjoy the final round at Royal Portrush – here’s one example of such a Custom Tour: https://www.perrygolf.com/standard-quote.php/115139/The-148th-Open-plus-Dublin-Newcastle–Londonderry.html 

Those wanting to brush up on their history before next week’s championship by learning more about past champions of The Open will want to tune into “Chronicles of a Champion Golfer,” which is produced by the R&A. The first two seasons are available on Netflix, and elsewhere, while the third season is currently airing on Golf Channel. We watched the Nick Pride episode recently and found it compelling. Price, a gentleman of the game, discussed serving in the Rhodesian Air Force during wartime, the impact of losing his father at a young age and near misses at The Open before he prevailed in 1994 at Turnberry.

 

This is the eighth time Carnoustie has played host to The Open and the links considered the most difficult in the rota certainly has carved its place in the championship’s rich, storied history.

Padraig Harrington hoisted the Claret Jug at Carnoustie most recently, defeating Sergio Garcia in a playoff in 2007. The legendary Ben Hogan won The 82nd Open in 1953 in his only appearance in golf’s oldest championship. Hogan was also the last golfer to win the first three legs of the modern Grand Slam. He was unable to play the final tournament the PGA Championship, due to a scheduling conflict and the 36-hole-per-day match play format, as he came back from a horrific auto accident.

Yet, it’s quite possible that one particular championship at Carnoustie – The 128th Open – will live forever in infamy. It was a unforgettable moment in golf history, and one, unfortunately that will always be recalled for the man who squandered the Claret Jug and not the champion who eventually claimed it.

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Jean Van de Velde, a unheralded French pro, played flawless golf for 71 holes that week in 1999. He arrived at the tee of the daunting par-4 18th holding a three-shot lead, needing only a double bogey to secure the title. An errant tee shot was the first of a series of mistakes that ultimately created a three-way tie atop the leaderboard and a playoff won by Paul Lawrie of Scotland. (Here’s a good trivia question to ask while having a pint with your golfing pals: Who was the third participant in the playoff?).

This evening, Golf Channel debuts “Go Down Swinging,” which projects as an excellent documentary of the events 19 years ago. You can relive the agony of the final hole fiasco featuring commentary from the inestimable Peter Alliss, below. The answer to our trivia question is Justin Leonard.