They say that “all roads lead to Rome”, but in golf it is surely the case that all roads lead to St Andrews. the Claret Jug
Winning The Open shows the world that you are skilled in the art of links golf, the purest form of our great game. It tells the world that you have adapted your golfing style and probably battled the elements better than your peers. Winning The Open means your name is imprinted in history on the magnificent Claret Jug.
Of course, being crowned Champion Golfer of the Year is a huge achievement for anyone and is sought after by all golfers. There is only one thing better than winning this accolade though, it is winning it at The Home of Golf, St Andrews.
All of those who have won The Open at St Andrews speak of the fact that winning on this hallowed land is extra special. This is the holy land of golf, visiting St Andrews is the most special of golfing experiences. You often see people walking through the town with golf clubs and you can feel the general excitement of the golfing visitors permeating through the air.
Here’s the thing though, St Andrews on Open week is a golfer’s dream, the town takes it up a notch! Every golfer should experience The Open here at one point in his/her life. The event may be many months away, but who should you be looking out for on this very special week.
One thing that is going to be interesting is to witness what Bryson DeChambeau does. Anyone who truly loves the Old Course at St Andrews will tell you that it’s a course that requires subtlety, well that’s not Bryson. His explosive long game could either completely overpower the old lady or could be entirely incompatible with the course and be his downfall.
Louis Oosthuizen, the smooth swinging South African is a strong prospect. After winning here in 2010, he clearly enjoys the links and he ended up in a playoff in 2015 when Zach Johnson won. Links golf suits the South African style and Branden Grace may be a dark horse for that reason, as could Christiaan Bezuidenhout or Erik van Rooyen.
Okay, enough of the South Africa love in. St Andrews is a course that requires precision and patience, especially if the weather gets bad on Open week. Many write the course off as “too easy for modern golfers” but that is just an oversimplification of the course and the challenge.
If you look through previous Open champions from St Andrews, you will find a who’s who of some of the most technically gifted golfers that have ever lived. Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are two obvious standouts as are Bobby Locke, Seve and Nick Faldo. This course suits tacticians and technicians, although John Daly in 1995 is a potential outlier against my point here.
With that in mind, we could be looking at someone like Jordan Spieth or Will Zalatoris coming through that week. Guys who don’t overpower but putt courses into submission. All of these names are ones to watch but none of them are homegrown, are there any Brits to watch out for?
Tommy Fleetwood seems like a strong choice here; he has been quiet in 2021 but that could be him building to a big 2022. European Tour players have a bit of an advantage here as the Old Course is an annual fixture on the tour calendar during the Dunhill Links. Rory is another British prospect; he has won The Open and his game is certainly showing green shoots again.
The ballot may already be closed, but even if you don’t have tickets you should try to get yourself down to St Andrews on Open week. Even if you get yourself along during the practice days when things are a little quieter, you won’t regret it.
One of the most sacred and special things about golf is the fact that we mere mortals can play the same course as the best players in the world. With that in mind, try and get yourself onto the Old Course in 2022 or 2023. It is a magical thing to get out there around the time of the event and see the course firsthand.
Like Wimbledon is to tennis, Madison Square Gardens is to boxing, and Silverstone is to F1, the Old Course at St Andrews is the spiritual home of golf. There is a magical atmosphere that is indescribable to non-golfers about this course.
Whatever happens in July 2022, someone will complete a rare and near mythical feat of winning the oldest major championship at the oldest course. There can be fewer more satisfying things to tell people than that you lifted the Claret Jug over the very land that birthed our beautiful game.