View From The Fairway - The Open Returns With Crowds
Ahead of the 149th Open, Derek Clements shares his View From The Fairway!
HOW good is it to see fans returning to the European Tour? While we saw some sparkling golf last year at the height of the pandemic, it was very strange to watch brilliant shots being greeted in total silence. There will be a daily attendance of 32,000 at The Open Championship at Royal St George’s this week and you can be absolutely certain that the atmosphere will be sensational. How good would it be if, come Sunday, they have the opportunity to cheer a home winner all the way up the 18th fairway?
WHILE many of the world’s leading players have refused to play at the Olympic Games, England’s Paul Casey is genuinely excited about the prospect of representing Great Britain. "I've wanted this for such a long time," Casey said. He will be bidding to keep the gold medal in GB hands after Justin Rose's victory in Rio five years ago when golf returned to the Olympic fold. "I think it really sunk in to all the guys who play what this means," Casey added. "For me the Olympics was something I grew up on, watching every four years. You see those iconic Olympic moments but you never thought as a golfer you'd be part of that. To be in Team GB kit, and to put that on and know that I'm going to go to the Olympics is something that is difficult to describe, but I'm very, very proud.” Casey refuses to be dragged into the debate about whether golf belongs in the Olympics. Fellow Britons Tyrrell Hatton, Charley Hull and Georgia Hall turned down the opportunity as did men's world number one Dustin Johnson and several other leading lights, including Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen. "Everybody is entitled to their opinion on which sports should be included," Casey said. "I'm not here to argue for or against anything. As a player I've seen the impact that it has had on the sport, a very positive impact. To me, representing your country is the greatest thing you can do as an athlete.” His attitude is refreshing at a time when prize-money seems to be the be-all-and-end-all for so many golfers
ON THE eve of The Open Championship, Rory McIlroy admits that he is still struggling with his swing. McIlroy failed to contend at the Irish Open as he finished 17 shots behind winner Lucas Herbert in a tie for 59th and missed the cut at the Scottish Open. And once again errant driving proved costly for the four-time major winner, who is considering a new approach at Royal St George’s. "I might need to hit more irons off the the tees to give myself a chance to make some birdies,” he said. "It's not usually how I play but it might help me avoid the big scores at some holes," added the Northern Irishman, who posted three double bogeys during his final two rounds. "I feel like the rest of my game is pretty good. I just need to get the ball in play more - if I get it on the fairway I can play good iron shots and give myself chances for birdies.” Rory might want to spend some time watching Tiger Woods’ victory at Hoylake in 2006, when he used his driver just once all week. There is more than one way to win a major.
YOU may have missed the news that a new sportsmanship award is to be presented at this year’s Ryder Cup. One player from each side will receive the award. It is all a far cry from the days when Paul Azinger and Seve Ballesteros almost came to blows at Kiawah Island or when Tom Lehman led an American invasion of the 17th green at Brookline when Justin Leonard holed “that putt” in his crucial singles match against Jose Maria Olazabal. It is fair to say that things have improved since then, with events at Brookline in 1999 proving to be a watershed moment for the event. However, it is difficult to imagine individuals such as Patrick Reed or Bryson DeChambeau coming into consideration for this award. One thing is for sure - both men will be doing everything they can to stir up a partisan American crowd. And we wouldn’t expect anything else.
A REMINDER that Covid-19 is still very much with us came with the news that Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama has been forced to withdraw from The Open after returning a positive test. It brings the number of players forced out by the pandemic to 10. With the Olympic Games in his native Japan just around the corner, Matsuyama will hope to recover quickly.
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