|The 2018 Open Championship, more casually known as the British Open, begins July 19 at Carnoustie Golf Links in Carnoustie, Scotland.
Established in 1860, the event is the longest-lasting major golf championship. It is conducted by The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
The reigning champion of the competition is automatically invited to play in the three other majors (Masters, U.S. Open, PGA Championship.). The prize for the championship is the legendary Claret Jug, which the champion personally keeps until the next year. Many an alcoholic drink has been sipped form this cup.
Since 1914, Harry Vardon has held the record for the most Open wins at six.
For the first 60 years, Americans did not travel overseas to the tourney. Finally, in the 1920s, Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones won a total of six times. Tom Watson won five times, Jack Nicklaus three times and Tiger Woods three times.
This year, Jordan Spieth is the defending champion. Native South Carolinian Dustin Johnson, the World No. 1 golfer, is favored to win.
The first 33 Opens were held in Scotland. Since then, England and Ireland have held events. The common factor in all the courses is the “links” topography. There are now 11 courses in the current rotation – five in Scotland, four in England and two in Northern Ireland.
St. Andrews in Scotland has held the event 29 times. This year’s host, Carnoustie, has held the tournament eight times. The course is nicknamed “Carnastie” for its level of difficulty, which always makes for an exciting event.
In 1999, one of the most memorable Opens occurred at Carnoustie. Jean Van de Velde, a French professional, came to the 18th tee with a three-shot lead. All he needed to do was double bogey the last hole.
He chose to hit his driver off the tee rather than play it safe. He then chose to go for the green and landed in the heavy rough. He then flew into a water hazard. He took off his shoes and went into the water, but ultimately had to take a drop.
His next shot went into the greenside bunker. He blasted out to six feet away and had to make the putt to go into a playoff that he eventually lost. This will be re-played many times on TV this week.
Americans do not consider the Open the top major, but if you talk to Europeans, this is the tournament they want to win. I really enjoy watching this tournament because of the links courses and the wind, which make for memorable shots.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.golfdoctorjean.com