'Car-nasty' ready to fill the sports void
From perfect pitches in Russia, to the manicured lawns of the All England Club and the highways of the Tour de France, so the focus of the sporting summer shifts to the windswept links land of Carnoustie in eastern Scotland.
The Open, the oldest of the four majors founded in 1860, is golf’s chance to shine in a crowded market, and the annual battle for the Claret Jug across some of the world’s most venerable links courses has a unique and rich history.
The return of Tiger Woods for the first time since 2015 after multiple back surgeries gives this year’s 147th edition extra allure.
In its own way, golf can produce drama just as gripping as a penalty shootout, tense tiebreak or six-man breakaway.
Links golf is an acquired taste for some, the original form of the game played across dune land bordering the sea in Scotland since the 15th century. The firm fairways, with their humps and hollows, pot bunkers, thick rough, gorse and, above all, a preeminent wind offer a distinct challenge to the manicured parkland courses of elsewhere.
Instead of flying the ball set distances through the air and spinning it to a stop on the greens, skilled links players use the ground to their advantage, knocking the ball low to hide it under the wind and running it towards the hole.
Tom Watson, a five-time Open champion, wasn’t keen the first time he came over from America. “I didn’t like the way you had to play short,” he told the BBC.
Phil Mickelson, so successful in the US, took 19 attempts before he was able to change his aerial game enough to win the Open in 2013.
“It took me a while to learn how to get the ball on the ground without spin,” the left-hander told CNN’s Living Golf.
“It takes a lot of creativity to play links golf,” he told reporters at the Scottish Open at Gullane, east of Edinburgh.
“You can do so many different things with just one club, whether you hit it low to get it to roll, hit it high, kind of work it into slopes.”
The Open itself is said to generate up to $133M for its host region, according to organizer the R&A.