FROM THE EDITOR
THE OPEN 2018 / ISSUE 9 / VOL 59
A couple of months ago, I achieved a long-term goal of playing every golf course on the Open rota when I spent a couple of days at Carnoustie with senior production editor Rob Jerram generating content for this month’s Open preview. You’re probably thinking that’s not a particularly impressive feat given that I’m the editor of a national golf magazine that publishes a highly respected Top 100 Courses franchise. I mention it only to highlight the fact that I had actually worked my way through the other eight courses on the current rotation and through 13 of the 14 on the all-time list about 20 years ago.
That got me thinking about exactly why it had taken me so long to get round to playing Carnoustie? The only explanation I could come up with, given that I’ve received plenty of invitations over the years, was that I was subconsciously fearful of taking my occasionally fragile game to arguably the most feared Open venue of them all.
I had seen at close hand what a brute the course could turn into when the wind got up and the stakes got high. I was standing almost within touching distance of Jean Van de Velde in 1999 when he walked onto the 18th tee in the final round of The Open. I remember thinking at the time, ‘How on earth do you hit this fairway let alone make a par? Thank heavens he’s got a three-shot cushion’. As we all know, Van de Velde squandered that lead courtesy of a little bad luck and a large dose of bad decision-making. Paul Lawrie went on to prevail over the Frenchman and America’s Justin Leonard in the four-hole play-off.
One would have thought that winning The Open would have brought Lawrie incredible happiness and a rich sense of fulfilment but, as he revealed to John Huggan in the interview on page 80, he became depressed by the negative reaction to his win from fans, media and even other players. Nobody wanted to herald the quality of Lawrie’s play. They only wanted to talk about Van de Velde’s tragic implosion.
As a magazine, we have been guilty in the past of inferring that Lawrie was ‘gifted’ the Claret Jug. That was wrong and now seems an opportune time to apologise to Paul for our flippancy. As we all know, tournament golf is a 72-hole affair. Over four days, Lawrie had played superbly to get into the position where he could capitalise on the opportunity that was presented to him. For that alone, not to mention the epic 4-iron he hit into 18 in the play-off to secure victory, he has not received anywhere near the recognition he deserves.
Whomever wins The Open this year, regardless of how they get over the finishing line, will be deserving of the title ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’. As I now know from experience, Carnoustie is as stern a test of golf as it gets. Maybe when I feel up to talking about it, I’ll tell you how I got on!
‘As a magazine, we have been guilty in the past of inferring Lawrie was ‘gifted’ the Claret Jug. That was wrong of us.’