ST. ANDREWS, Scotland ( Associated Press) — Jack Nicklaus spoke of the importance of winning the British Open in St. Andrews in various ways over the years, and his inspiration was Bobby Jones.
Jones won the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1927, and he won the British Amateur at the Old Course in 1930 when he won the “impregnable ring”: the big four of the time, the US Open, the British Open, the US Amateur and British fan.
“If you’re going to be a player that people will remember, you have to win the Open at St. Andrews,” Nicklaus said. He is as fond as quoting Jones: “No golfer’s career is complete until he wins at St. Andrews.”
The only open champions at St. Andrews this year there are Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and John Daly.
Good luck to the other 152 players on the field, right?
“I don’t know if a golfer’s career isn’t complete if they don’t,” Rory McIlroy said. “But I think he is the holy grail of our sport. So not many people will have the chance to do it, but that’s what it means to win an Open at St Andrews. It’s one of the greatest achievements you can have in golf.”
Woods is playing the Open at St. Andrews for the sixth time. Mark Calcavecchia, who won the Open at Royal Troon, is playing it for the seventh time.
Considering that the Open usually goes to St. Andrews every five years, that would give a player no more than five chances on the Old Course during his prime.
“I’ve heard several champions say it,” Jon Rahm said. “I think it was Jack and Tiger that did it. “You can’t really call yourself a great player unless you win The Open at St Andrews”, which is a very selective group to say. I think it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I know what they mean.
“And it can almost take your career to another level just because of how great a place this is.”
McIlroy said it would be unfair to say a player’s career is incomplete without winning at St. Andrews. The best example would be Tom Watson, an eight-time Grand Slam champion who won the British Open on five different courses. But never in St Andrews.
Max Homa qualified for his first major in 2013 for the US Open in Merion, having won the NCAA championship in Cal. He showed his personality back then with a cheep who asked Tiger Woods for a practice round. He added the hashtag “hero”.
Homa won the Genesis Invitational in 2021. Woods is hosting the tournament and presented the trophy to Homa that day at Riviera.
Keep getting better.
At the 150th British Open in St. Andrews, where Woods won two of his claret jugs, he was put in the same group with US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and Homa.
That was the occasion for another cheep from homa.
“I am playing Tiger Woods at the 150th Open Championship in St Andrews. Hey golf gods, we’re even,” part of the quote read.
This was not revenge. Homa won the Wells Fargo Championship for his second victory on the PGA Tour this season and the fourth of his career. He is number 19 in the world.
One of the most important meetings this week at the British Open for the immediate future of golf was the annual meeting of the Official Board of the World Golf Rankings.
At issue is whether the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series should be part of the OWGR system. Without it, players who are currently suspended from the PGA Tour and European tour, or who have quit, cannot earn points and will be left out of the top 50 and beyond.
It starts with an application, which was received at the end of last week.
How the board acts on the request remains to be determined. LIV Golf could have some problems with only 48-man courses and no 36-hole court.
The OWGR has a history of a new tour going through a waiting period of at least a year.
An OWGR spokesman would not comment on the meeting.
Tiger Woods has won the British Open twice at St. Andrews. Paul Lawrie has the honor of teeing off at St. Andrews for the second time.
Lawrie, who holds the major championship record for his 10-stroke comeback in the final round when he won at Carnoustie, will be the first to play Thursday morning alongside former US Open champion Webb Simpson and Min Woo Lee, who won the Scottish Open last year.
At the 2010 British Open in St. Andrews, Lawrie hit the opening shot while playing alongside Thomas Levet of France and Steve Marino.
“You still see him as a player and it’s just a tee shot and you want to get him on the fairway,” Lawrie said. “Obviously it’s a big celebration for them. It’s a great week, a great milestone. The more you think about it, it’s actually a good thing to be asked to do the 150.”
Lawrie said he always gets nervous on the first tee of any tournament, let alone an Open at St. Andrews. The good news?
“Fortunately, it’s a nice, big, wide street,” he said.
Justin Thomas made his professional debut on the Old Course when he played the Dunhill Links Championship in 2013. This will be his first British Open at the home of golf, and he recalled the greatest danger on the Old Course.
“These are definitely the most penal bunkers of any Open Championship I’ve ever played in,” said Thomas. “I haven’t really seen, but maybe one or two, if you go in, it’s not just a chip-out or just a lateral hit on the fairway.”
The most problematic thing on the greens is when the balls go into the bunker. The sand is so fine that a ball stops where it lands, compared to typical American bunkers where they tend to roll toward the center. That can lead to some impossible shots.
His caddy, Jim “Bones” Mackay, showed Thomas what can happen during a practice round on Sunday.
“I tried to hit him like five or six times and I couldn’t get him out,” Thomas said.
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