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Summer of sport part4 - Open Championship early preview
Open Championship 2013 Preview
The name of the championship is a reference to any professional golfer in the world and any amateur with a scratch handicap or better being entitled to enter the event. With such great strength in depth of talent at the top of the game in modern golf, it is also a fitting title for an event that is wide open in terms of it being so difficult to predict a winner. There’s not many sporting events where you could be asked for a list of fifty players who you think might win the tournament and after you produce your list you’re still not absolutely convinced that the winner will be on it.
First played in 1960 it is clearly an event steeped in history. It has survived America’s dominance in turning a past time for the rich into a highly commercial professional sport, to establish itself as the only one of the four events that are known as the four Major Championships to be based outside America. It’s most notable feature is that it is only ever player on a ‘links’ course, that being a course built on the land between the sea and the land that could be used for farming. These courses have traits that distinguish them from all the inland courses that are used for the vast majority of professional events throughout the year. Fairways are different, drier and mown more closely often with lots of humps and hollows, greens are firmer, less likely to promote back spin, often smaller with many slopes, some subtle some not so, the sand in the bunkers is different as is the size and shape of them usually smaller and deeper and the rough is different too, longer and thinner.
In 2013 the venue will be Muirfield, just outside Edinburgh and one of the game’s most traditional venues. It’s not hosted an Open since 2002, which is a long gap for such a highly rated venue steeped in so much history. Back then Ernie Els finally won an Open, battling through the elements and the first and so far only four man play-off for the Open Championship. Conditions were so brutal on the Saturday that year that Tiger Woods, when close to his best, could only manage a round of 82. This is a venue that has seen Jack Nicklaus win his first Open Championship, a classic duel between Lee Trevino and Tony Jacklin when Trevino’s victory that was aided by holing a few shots from off the green, seemed to go a long way to ending Jacklin’s career at the top of the game, more recently Nick Faldo made the venue his own by winning consecutive Muirfield Opens in 1987 and 1992.
Will Tiger Woods win a fourth Open Championship to confirm his ascent back to the top of the game? Maybe Rory Mcilroy will win his first Open, to confirm that this is the start of his era as the game’s premier player. Lee Westwood, Sergio Garica, Luke Donald, Justin Rose will lead those looking to finally end their wait for a first major after years near the top of the rankings and coming close in majors.
156 players will tee-off on the first day, with their dreams of glory intact, gradually one by one 155 dreams will be crushed. 156 stories waiting to be told, 156 different journeys to the same location, all of them have practiced many hours in search of ultimate glory, only one will get to taste that glory this time.
In a sport where ‘rub of the green’ or luck can play a part more than most other sports, outside influences can effect the result, not least the weather that can change so much over the course of a day that some players can play in much easier conditions than others. Caddies too can have a say in determining the winner, back in 1999 a top class piece of caddying on the final hole would’ve meant the Jean Van De Velde would got his name on the trophy instead of Paul Lawrie.
Although it’s an event that is so hard to predict, there are some things we can confidently expect; four days of world class golf, seeing the best players in the world facing the ultimate test and a thrilling finale with the outcome in doubt up until the last few putts are holed.
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