The 150th Open

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I wonder if Rory's improvement was helped by him playing a more regular (for him heavier) schedule in the preceding 4-5 weeks?
i.e he was much more 'matchfit' and dare I say maybe he hasn't always had that edge with his usual lite/well spaced schedule

Rory only played once inbetween the US Open and The Open ( the Travellers ) - he pretty much took two weeks off where as before he used to play either the Irish Open or a comp in the US

Rory is playing like he did just before the pandemic , he looks calm , very much comfortable with his swing and his putting is superb right now

He clearly looks happy with wife - Sunday will have knocked him , seems he was very upset when after when meeting his family.

Can see a great finish to the season and a major in the bag next year
 

Orikoru

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There's a video of all the putts Rory missed on the last day circulating, show how close he was to making a few drop, but they just missed. Simply, Smith is a better putter, he has a more solid stroke, and that's why he's so accurate with the putter.

Rory wasn't unlucky as such, if I was him, I'd be trying to emulate Cam's putting style which is noticeably more solid.
Smith's putting is unbelievable, been the best in the world for a while for me. He putts like prime Tiger when he's on it - and incidentally there look to be a lot of similarities there in the way that they both putt, and even down to the putter they each use. Very simple stroke, standing upright, not trying to force in it.

It could be my imagination, but when I think of the greatest putters in the game, I can't recall many of them using a big mallet style.
 

Billysboots

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I think rory will be kicking himself he didnt push harder on sunday. There was plenty of birdies out there as proved by large swathes of the field.

Intresting stat I've noticed is he only made 1 birdie all week on holes 1 to 4. If you look at other guys in and around him for the most part they made multiple birdies on these holes and the odd bogie or two but they were all 2 3 4 even more under par for these holes.

Does this suggest an element of too much caution. It could be argued no as he had the lead going into the final day.

It's fine margins at the end of the day but it does say to me he left shots out there that other guys were picking up. Only bryson at level was worse than rory at 1under for these 4 holes in the top 10.

McIlroy clearly had a game plan, as all top players should, and for 54 holes it worked a treat. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it worked a treat for all four days - the difference on Sunday, as has been said many times, being that he simply holed nothing. It happens.

Tee to green he played beautifully all week. He was simply out-putted when it mattered.
 
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McIlroy clearly had a game plan, as all top players should, and for 54 holes it worked a treat. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it worked a treat for all four days - the difference on Sunday, as has been said many times, being that he simply holed nothing. It happens.

Tee to green he played beautifully all week. He was simply out-putted when it mattered.

Totally agree.

I would even go as far as saying Rory actually putted really well all four days - his putting from distance, even on Sunday, was superb.
 

Jimaroid

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I'm still buzzing from Sunday and I'll need to split this into two posts, no apologies for that. Trying to sum up some of the emotion and atmosphere of being there is very tricky without it getting extremely long so I'll get the important bit out of the way first. It was a unique, absolutely flawless and fantastic moment in sports history. In addition to all the years of hard work from multiple organisations and commercial entities, we know from the presentation that over 7000 volunteers helped make it happen from all walks of life, from clubs and societies in and outwith golf. A number of those people are friends and one day I intend to "give back" and do the same. That spirit is what epitomises to me that golf is a brilliant fellowship first and a participation sport second. I know The Open didn't begin here but St Andrews is the spiritual home and The Old Course is a destination of pilgrimage from around the world. On this 150th occasion we all contributed one way or another to bring the vision that Everything Has Led To This to life. Here's to all the past, present and future Champions and three cheers to everyone that worked to make history. ? Golf is great.

I was very lucky and do feel privileged to have been able to attend over so many days. Each day I was able to do something a little different, whether that was with my almost-10 year old daughter one day or just being with my 80 y/o father-in-law another day. Sport does have an ability to bridge culture and generation gaps but I think the difference with golf is you get to see a more human side to players on practice days versus tournament days. It's cliched but you do see people differently in the flesh and being up close with the players on the practice day you felt the anticipation and excitement in the air. The kids running around looking for autographs. The parents sending their kids to get the autographs they're too embarassed to ask for. The questions, the ribbing, the genuine messages of "play well on Thursday" from the fans. It's all completely honest and well meaning. In today's abrasive culture you can momentarily forget just how nice, well meaning and human everyone is. This is the third Open I've taken my daughter to now. She loves seeing Tiger and Rory because she loves the idea that she's seeing the "greatest in the whole wide world." So that's my first highlight that's hard to find anywhere else - interaction with the players as a family and seeing the best in the world as somewhat ordinary people.

I should also mention one silly little thing from the Wednesday. The Park & Ride, there's something trivial but special about approaching The Open on the top-front seat of a double decker bus, approaching the course and seeing the tented village on the horizon. Yes I'm sure it would be better in a helicopter but I live in reality and top-front of the Bus does us just fine. Special thanks then to the guy manning the P&R at Leuchars for giving my daughter that little treat by sending a bus away and letting her queue jump to the next bus. :D It's the small things that make a big difference and it's that type of moment that demonstrates the festival spirit that's present in all the staff and volunteers.

Friday was my first tournament day. Father-in-law and I lazily headed in for about 9:00 and wandered along to the grandstand at 7&11 and our traditional vantage point. No question this is the best place to see a lot of golf coming through. I know people criticise the Old for lack of vantage points and not being able to see much golf but out at 7&11 there is, at times, too much going on. With a pair of binoculars you can see everything happening from the 7th tee all the way through to the 12th green. It's a six hole theatre. Coupled with the Open App/Radio for commentary you can just sit for hours and watch everyone go by. What I really like is the hubbub and murmors from the crowd, the frisson you get of a good shot coming in and idle chatter of people trying to get a line on putts. It breaks left, it breaks right, it's short, its long! The oohs and aahs of balls that are holding the ridge on 7 but then falling away to end up wrong sided of the hole. None of that tension and excitement comes through on TV. Up in the back of the stands there's a constant chatter, it's completely inaudible to players and marshalls and I love it. People from around the world sat packed together just to guess where a silly little ball might go. Golf is stupid and brilliant and unique for that.

We watched Tiger play through and what can be said that hasn't already been said. He's utterly broken but still in my mind the greatest of all time. I really expected him to call it a day and I wished I'd been able to follow him in to witness his walk up 18. We tried but as we were needing to get lunch we just got caught out by queues back in the golf village. What was really special was, as it was happening, a whisper was going through the crowds with everyone saying "Tiger's crying up 18" and "Is he done?", "Is that it?", "Has he waved goodbye?" and other similar concerns. The wave of sombreness, gasps, fidgeting with phones to try and tune-in and the general murmuring from everyone was incredible.

Saturday started early and we headed over to the practice tee first of all. We arrived before the first player out and watched a few of the early groups warm up and then headed over to the grandstand at the 1st tee where there was a tiny and brief (for me) forum meet. The air was cool, there were very few people around and the sun was starting to break through. Is there anything better than the sound of a well struck iron off the first tee? It's a beautiful noise in the theatre of 1 and 18 at St Andrews, the solid thwack reverberating around the buildings and seeing the ball fly to land on perfectly chosen lay-ups to the first green. Beautiful to behold.

Then I headed back out to 7 & 11 and baked in the heat for a few hours. Although this time, being a bit later in the day we had a 30 to 40 minute queue to get in the stand. Not a big deal but meant a few grumbles from people around. You just have to be patient and time your toilet breaks well - not something I'm particularly good at! Anyway, it wasn't much different here from the Friday other than the change in pin positions. I love watching 7 because it's an incredibly deceptive green. From the angle of the grandstand you can see the contour a little better but when you're stood playing it, it can be a very difficult break to read. It's nice to see the best in the world getting tricked in the same way us handicap golfers do.

Saturday ended on the 17th Grandstand watching everyone finish. The buzz you get in the 17th stand is great, there's a lot of chatter about strategy and shot making. Seeing players try to take the green, gamble with the bunker or take the safe approaches from back left. If there is one place in golf where you can see everything and anything happen I think it's here. The drama of incoming balls is fantastic. Is it long, left, road, bunker, 18th tee or 1st Burn? Or even short rough, short bunker left. Short rough right? TV stand left? Road, pavement, grass or wall right? People talk about golf being a test and this is the hole that tests everyone. I love it. You really see a bit of everything here and my highlight of the afternoon was DJ duffing/topping his tee shot off 18. I laughed out loud, yes the pro's have bad shots too but this was something else. I've never seen anyone come as close to hitting the bridge as he did.
 

Jimaroid

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After squeezing a couple of South Africans into the camper van on our lawn, Sunday at the 150th Open finally came. Up before 6 and getting the coffees made, it felt like Christmas had come early. 3 very excited manchildren headed back to the Park and Ride, an easy 10-15 minutes down the road and we arrived before the course was open. Amongst the first people in we started the day behind the 1st green where we watched a few approaches. The highlight here being Matsuyama going in the burn and then chipping in to save par - a nice little cheer went up but after a few more players came through with nothing particularly special going on we heading out again to 7&11 having deposited everything we could at the toilets on the way. The plan was to hold out for as long as we could in the grandstand. It was already busy when we got there so as people left we spent a bit of time shuffling further and further towards the 11th pin before we managed to get a good view at both the 7 & 11 holes. The expected heat in the weather forecast never really came in the morning but there was some really good chatter with groups of people from various nations around the world. Some absolutely great pitches are made on 7 and you get a lovely angle looking at low fizzing balls bite into the undulating green complex. Some really impressive skills and judgement with carefully selected landing zones for balls to bounce-bounce-grab and feed in towards the hole. As for 11, well, it's just a tough pin placement on Sundays and nearly everyone plays short and then finds the putt lacking pace. It's tough putt with death lurking not far behind the hole, very few players got the pace up the slope and lots were left short. The drama only really comes from from a poor tee shot that has no line to the hole at all. A few poor putts and a failed wedge (forgotten who) from the putting surface was the entertainment highlight here as it generates some funny chatter.

Eventually my legs needed a stretch and my bladder an empty so I wandered off to find something to eat just as Rory was teeing off the first. I sat in front of a big screen around the 10th tee with a bite to eat and joined the crowd watching and cheering him on. Everywhere was full now and the air was alive with excitement and shouts of COME ON RORY!

My plan was to head back towards 17 and settle in there ready for the finish and passing the leading groups on the way. Going against the traffic might seem unwise but there's plenty of room on the New course and there are various places where you can stand on a bump or mound with a pair of Binoculars and get a decent view across the greens. I stayed with them through 4 to 6. Hovland looked agitated, you could just get this sense of something not being right for him. Smith was looking cucumber cool and in fine form by the 6th hole. Rory just had an aura of calm and patience. Even at this point I felt it had to be Rory's but really wanted Hovland to get back into it again. Nobody was paying attention to Cameron Young.

Getting back to 17 it was a bit of a disaster, the queues for the stand now were just horrendous so I walked up 18 with the intention of popping into my clubhouse but changed my mind and walked over Granny Clark's to get a coffee. A nice little moment here at the crossing chatting to some Marshalls and I caught sight of the famous crowd control rope lying on the side of the 18th fairway. It's these little things that fascinate me. I wonder where they keep it?

The murmurs in the crowd now moved around. Smith was on a charge. Some Rory roars and groans were heard in the distance. The sense of something special building around 1 and 18 was impossible to avoid. It had to be going to a play off the way it was looking and suddenly Cameron Young was in the mix.

It was about this point that I got the phone call to say we'd gotten some seats in the stand overlooking the first tee and 18. I've already posted the photo here but to say we were like delirious children is an understatement. One really lovely moment giving Fitzpatrick the traditional standing ovation to the reigning US Open champion but the anticipation as the leading groups were coming to 17 and 18 just kept building and building. It was clear that something special had to happen and through the binoculars we could see a ball on 17 with the two Camerons playing up. Chatter went through the crowd, "It's Smith!" "It's Young" "Oh my GOD! Where's Rory?". The noise of The Open scoreboard fluttering behind us as the players and scores moved around - what a fantastic sound. Suddenly we realised Smith was short left on 17. It looked like he was dead but a swish of the putter, a brief moment, a ball appears from behind the road hole bunker and the pace, oh the pace! From this angle it's on the pin. It's Perfect! But a murmur from the crowd, it's good but there's still work to do for a par. Come on now, it's Smith, his putter is red hot. He's surely made par! He has! Wow!

By this point we'd lost radio commentary. There was just too much contention on the 4G and free wifi networks. Didn't matter, everyone in the crowd roughly knew the situation now and Smith and Young are on the 18th tee. Where's Rory? Smith drives, it's lovely, a birdie chance easily. Young steps up. He steps away, a ball appears on 17? Is that Rory? No it's Hovland! What the hell is going on? Young's back on the tee. Young drives, it's ludicrous, it's high, it's far. It's kicked forward. OH MY GOD IT'S PERFECT. It rolls up for an eagle chance, we leap out of the seats. Surely Rory needs Birdie Birdie finish to go a play off. The crowd is silent and, flash, a ball appears on the 17th green. The speed of sound catches up and it's a Rory Roar from the 17th stand. It's incredible. It looks about 10 to 15 foot putt and the fight is on. We're stood in the stand and I can't hold my binoculars steady, I am shaking with adrenaline.

People in the stand are trying to figure out what's happening. Everyone's an expert. Everyone's an idiot. Rory putts, the pace is spot on, it's there, it's there, it's... Just left! People behind me don't have binoculars. They want to know what's happening. We chat. We laugh. Why are we more nervous than the players?

Smith putts up and across the slope of 18 and down the green. He's done it. A certain birdie. Young putts and the ball rolls, it looks on line, it's slowing... we're groaning, we're biting our arms, the ball pauses and falls. An incredible eagle. We're out of out seats again cheering. But Smith's putting already. We sit and try to calm ourselves. It's an easy birdie, I take a photo thinking that has to be the winning putt. Rory is toast but if, IF he can do what Young has just done and surely, surely, Rory is one of the few players that can do it. There's a very slight breeze into Rory's face, he drives and it's huge. It's high and flying, the ball begins to drop it's going to make the green and NOOOO! The ball lands and just dies. Cheers and groans combine. He's still got a lovely position, he can chip in from here. We're out of our seats. Viktor drills his ball perfectly into the middle line and there are people flooding everywhere. They're jumping through the burn, they're swarming the bridges. Police and marshalls are sprinting across the fairways. It's just people everywhere and somewhere in the melee Rory appears. The ropes go taught, the crowd pushes. The marshalls calm it down, it's a wonderful sight. What a fantastic moment. We are stood looking at history.

Viktor's putting and I'm shaking apart, it's certainly coming back towards him. Oh Viktor, not like that! And here's Rory's moment. He doesn't hang about. He knows. There's only one shot here. He clips the ball, we leap out of our seats again, it's got to hit the pin, it's good, it's bad, it's missed! It's over. Smith has done it. We're cheering, we're exhausted. The grandstand is buzzing, the scoreboard is flipping. The Champion Golfer has disappeared. Is he cutting the mullet off? Who knows, who cares, oh Rory, so close again but well played.

And that's it. That's how I remember it. I might be wrong in some order of events because I was so excited. I'll never forget it and like I say at the start I know we're very lucky and privileged to have witnessed it. The drama that played out within that theatre of 1 and 18 is the best thing I've seen in golf since Stenson at Troon, a deservedly climactic conclusion of the 150th Open. Smith is a fine and extremely likeable champion. Young surely has a major coming now, he was very impressive and Rory was... Just classic Rory in being brilliant, powerful, and back in his younger, calm and carefree self. He's just missing a little bit of luck which was the only difference on the day. Lastly Hovland, who is such a lovely person and just could not get anything going all day. Everytime his profile pic popped up on the big screens I was chuckling. He looks like such a scamp, all grinning and rosy cheeked like a drunken teenager loving life. He'll do it soon too, no doubt.

Last comment to The Old Course. It was resplendent in condition. The browned off humps and greener hollows presenting the undulations beautifully. A slap in the face to that old cliche of the course being flat. I'd have liked to have seen a little more rough in places but that's nature for you. Despite all its critics it still presents a classic links challenge. It will test everyone differently and sometimes you just need a bit of luck out there. Golf doesn't need to be difficult all the time, the best players in the best form riding the best luck will always come out top.

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BiMGuy

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stefanovic

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I have stepped outside and I can’t see a reason for The Open to be stopped ?‍♂️

Not just the Open but all big events must come under scrutiny.
No longer can we change the subject regarding the carbon footprint of every one of us.
Simply, burning fossil fuels such as burning carbon in oxygen is going to have to stop right now.
That was stated a few years ago, but next to nothing has been done.
We are getting closer and closer to the limit for life to continue on the planet which is 47C.
A temperature recorded in Spain and a few days ago in Portugal.
There is no nearby planet capable of supporting life. There is no planet B.
 

chrisd

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Great write up Jim.

Reminds me of the feelings we had at Royal St George's last year, although we could only go on the Saturday.

GM should print your story especially as it comes from a fan of golf
 

chrisd

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Not just the Open but all big events must come under scrutiny.
No longer can we change the subject regarding the carbon footprint of every one of us.
Simply, burning fossil fuels such as burning carbon in oxygen is going to have to stop right now.
That was stated a few years ago, but next to nothing has been done.
We are getting closer and closer to the limit for life to continue on the planet which is 47C.
A temperature recorded in Spain and a few days ago in Portugal.
There is no nearby planet capable of supporting life. There is no planet B.

They could hold the Open on the moon, but there wouldn't be much atmosphere !
 
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