You just have to take a walk St. Andrews any day of the year to savor a very special atmosphere. The fact that the Old Course that it is the place where the first rules of golf were signed in 1744 and that the bodies of Tom Morris (father and son), winners of eight British Open between them in the 19th century, rest in its cemetery, are data that little they would say to the fans of the XXI. However, golf is such a particular sport that you have to feel it up close to savor it. Especially this week, in the midst of an unusual heat wave in this area of northern Scotland, the 150th edition of a tournament that no sports fan should miss is being held.
Walking these days through the streets of this cobbled city leaves no room for doubt. Golf is the real protagonist no matter where you look. Nobody seems to be concerned that prices have quadrupled in all sectors and the public turns to pubs and improvised gatherings where it is difficult not to find a tournament badge on caps, t-shirts or polo shirts. One can come across Princess Ana at hole 1 or with a triumphant procession like the one that paraded with great pomp through the cobblestone streets on the occasion of a very special celebration: the investiture as honorary doctors by its historic university ( oldest in Scotland, dating from 1413) of four illustrious world golf names.
Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Catriona Matthew y Jose Maria Olazabal they wrote a piece of history in a new format and this moved the Spanish genius during the ceremony when he heard the names of Severiano Ballesteros, who preceded him in recognition, and Sergio Gómez, his former manager who died last year. «Tears escaped me because it was a very nice act and I would have liked to have shared it with them; but having said that, I feel very flattered to have received this honor, that I am still thinking if I deserve it or not… although if they have given it to me it will be because I have done something good in this world », he joked at the end.
since that Prestwick’s first edition, in 1860, in which only eight players participated with a belt as a prize until today, with 156 fighting for 2.5 million dollars, it has rained a lot. Especially since in this 150th anniversary of the tournament (Except for the years in which it was not held due to wars or pandemics), there will be 290,000 people who will follow an event live that will leave a wealth of 120 million euros in the area.
6. Harry Vardon
5. James Braid
5. J. H. Taylor
5. Peter Thomson
St. Andrews It is the venue that has been repeated most throughout history in the British Open (Today the thirtieth of the 150 disputed begins) and here some of the most relevant men in history have won, although not all. Gary Player or Tom Watson, for example, never won on their streets, although other figures such as Bobby Jones, Peter Thomson, Nick Faldo or, twice, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
The latter did not hesitate to give up playing the last Open USA in order to be present in what could be his last ‘British’. Given the rotation policy for the different fields of the islands, it is possible that, when the championship returns here, the Tiger will be well into his fifties. “I don’t know if this will be the last time I can play Old Course being competitive, I had to give the rest to come here”, he commented with sincerity. He stressed the fact that he came with the intention of having a good tournament and in no way to walk around. His form is much better than the one he presented in the Masters, in April, and, of course, in the PGA Championship May, which led him to retire suffering from an obvious limp.
Of course, he did not clarify whether it would be his last Open or not, especially since at this point in his career he does not want to close doors before time. The winner of 15 ‘majors’ He is training normally these days (he plays daily and shows no signs of weakness in his legs) and there is no reason to think of a premature retirement at 46 years old. And that an iconic photo in the Swilkan Bridge that gives access to the 18th hole is a very important memory not to think about it. Other figures like Arnold Palmer, Nicklaus, Trevino, Faldo or Watson won it before, and the Californian wants to be the next on the list. Now, whether the snapshot is taken tomorrow or Sunday will depend on his ability to make the cut on a course that is harder and faster than usual.
A design from before
Unlike what architects are looking for in modern courses (two rounds of nine holes or three of six that always return to the clubhouse to have greater agility in the game), in the past the courses started from one and when they reached the nine, in the farthest part, returned to the starting point. In the case of this jewel of classicism, a strip of land adjoining the enormous beach of the town (where the mythical scenes of the ‘Chariots of Fire’ training sessions were filmed) was used to stuff the outward holes beaten by the sea . Then there is a loop in the far corner and it returns the action more sheltered from the wind. Hence, the time at which you start playing is key to ensure better weather. The forecast dictates that the first two rounds will have stronger blows as the hours progress while the weekend will be sunny.