It’s been a funny ole week. It started late last Friday evening with a crashing of the blog website and two terrifying words flashing up intermittently on my screen – Fatal Error. Thirty-three minutes later I managed to get things back online with the loss of only one plugin – a bit of a result in my book – and I was able to crawl into bed secure in the knowledge that our (sad) transatlantic friends who may want to log on during their Friday evening would still be able to do so. Patricia, of course, was oblivious to the drama as Friday is the night she catches up on her sleep after sitting up till the wee hours on a Thursday night crafting her blog prose.
An uneventful enough weekend hadn’t prepared me for a decision that would have to be made on Monday. My hubby and I regretfully concluded we needed to abort a planned five-day visit to Venice starting next Tuesday. I was loath to jeopardise my four working trips this year to America for the three US majors and the Ryder Cup. Mr Trump has already banned entry to the States for anyone who has recently visited China and if the situation in Italy continues to escalate, he may decide to add that country to his list and I didn’t want to run that risk. And, anyway, it wouldn’t feel right to add to the woes of the Italians with unnecessary travel to a region already having to implement quarantine measures in certain areas.
So, the passport is packed away now until April arrives and Augusta is once again beckoning. I still feel like Augusta kicks off the golfing year but I couldn’t be more wrong! I was staggered to realise that the PGA Tour is approaching the mid-point of its season, having completed some 22 tournaments already and with a couple of dozen or so left to come. The climax, the Tour Championship, is during the last week in August before the (US) football season starts. Yikes, the year will be over before we know it.
I wonder how many of you are collectors? I wouldn’t say I’m a collector per se but I do have quite a selection of golf books and memorabilia. I also inherited my mother’s hobby of collecting books of matches from various golf tournaments and hotels we’d all stayed in during my amateur and professional days of playing and spectating. This record of our travels resides in a large Portmeirion bowl and occasionally I pluck one out at random to see what memories an innocuous little book of matches may elicit.
This time I got my husband to close his eyes and try a lucky dip – and out came a slightly tattered blue book, still containing eight matches. On it in white lettering was written 113th Open Golf Championship. Then, when you lifted the flap, there was the date: 1984.
Ah, Seve. The first thing that comes to mind is his glorious final green celebration – the impossibly good-looking, charismatic Spaniard pumping his fist in delight with a smile from ear to ear. It’s one of the iconic pictures in our sport and one of ace photographer Dave Cannon’s all-time favourite images. But there are a couple of other little things that I also recall. Moments after that picture was taken Seve left the 18th green and handed his ball to a young lad who was nearby. This lad was the son of friends of Patricia’s and mine and 36 years later that boy still has that cherished golf ball, along with a letter from Seve attesting to its provenance. Talk about winning the lottery!
That year was the first of five Opens I have attended at the Old Course and, if my memory serves me correctly, it was the final time there was a second cut, after 54 holes.
My next Open was the 2000 edition where Tiger was at his imperious best and in 2005 we saw Jack Nicklaus bring down the curtain on his career with a final hole birdie, much to the delight of the huge galleries who had come out to see this legend of the game for one final time.
In 2010 it was Louis Ooosthuizen’s turn, a bright red dot inked onto his pristine white glove as a constant reminder to him to focus purely on the shot at hand. The significance of the walk up the final hole of the two South Africans, Louis and his caddy Zack Rasego, was not lost on a country that had come a long way in dealing with the poison of apartheid. Great moments, historic moments.
Zach Johnson may have won in 2015 but the story for most of the week was all about one man, Jordan Spieth. Spieth had won the Masters in April and the US Open in June of that year and he was having a jolly good tilt at making it three in a row. He ultimately missed out on a play-off by a shot but another man was knocking on the door of history. Paul Dunne, an Irish amateur, was joint leader of the Open Championship after 54 holes. A week can be a long time….and this was a long week, an 8-day one in fact. Bad weather meant the final round was played on the Monday and for Dunne it was one day too many. He slipped down the leaderboard in the last round and finished in a tie for 30th.
The next time an Irishman would tee off in the final group on the final day of the Open would be 2019 at Royal Portrush! I still shiver to think of it.
A treasure trove of memories and experiences lies in my Portmeirion bowl – and I doubt I’d recall them if I hadn’t still got those books of matches to look at and jog the old grey cells. Mums know a thing or two, don’t they?