THE OPEN 2018 / IS­SUE 9 / VOL 59

Golf World (UK) - - FROM THE EDITOR - Nick Wright, Edi­tor nick.jwright@bauer­me­ @nick­jameswright

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.’

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