“Tiger was always the last one to show up…”
The Open Golf Championship returns to St Andrews this July and I would like to share my top 5 picks for who might win at “the home of golf” and share a story of my Open Championship experience at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake in 2006.
In 2003, I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to start my career at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake. Upon accepting the job, I knew the Open Championship was returning to Hoylake for an impressive 11th time. Even then the preparations for one of the biggest tournaments in golf had already started.
Back when Tiger was still in his prime, he was the last one to show up for a practice round and get a feel for the course. It was a big secret where he was staying for the week. We had the media turn up every day expecting him to be there, but still no sign.
I remember the day he finally arrived. He turned up unannounced. Tiger would always follow his former caddy Steve Williams wherever he would go. They walked through the carpark, never been there before, and strolled to the first tee as if he knew exactly where to go. As always, he had a huge crowd following him. He hired a hand-picked team from the British Army as his entourage for the week.
It was interesting to see his game plan unfold as he practiced. If was a very hot, dry summer so he chose not to hit anything other than Irons off the tee. He only hit one driver all week and it went nearly 400 yards. As the week went on you could see his strategy was working. He won the Open with an impressive -18.
Meeting Tiger Woods after the tournament, getting memorabilia signed and pictures taken is an experience I will never forget.
For the betting man, here are my top 5 picks for the week:
Rory McIlroy – World No. 1; Rory finished 3rd at St Andrews in 2010 and won his 1st Claret Jug at Hoylake last year.
Justin Rose – A steady game and a great temperament. Could this be his 2nd major win?
Rickie Fowler – Having placed in the top 5 in all 4 majors, including runner up to Rory last year at Hoylake. This could be his time.
Tiger Woods – Despite being at his worst position in the World Golf Rankings (205th, as at 21st June) we can NEVER rule out Tiger. He won 2 of his 3 Open Championships at St Andrews 2000 & 2005. He clearly knows his way round the course.
Jordan Spieth – The hottest talent of this year so far, jumping to No. 2 in the world rankings after his US Masters and US Open win.
I hope you will enjoy the tournament as much as I will. If you are lucky enough to be at Kuredu Resort & Spa, Maldives, during The Open 2015, I would love you to come down to the Golf Club to watch the coverage and to have a golf chat; I will be happy to share more great stories from my professional golfer career.
If you haven’t given it a try yet, or you are usually above par, it would be my pleasure to teach you how to play links-style golf like the pros; I’m available for private lessons at any time during your day.
I look forward to welcoming you soon, best of luck with your golfing season & don’t forget that even if you are not the youngest anymore, you are not over the hill yet – you are just playing the back nine!