Barney's July Newsletter
The long hot summer (not tiring of writing that yet!) of sport continues after a brilliant World Cup, exciting Wimbledon and The Open Championship takes centre stage at Carnoustie. The tee times were released on Monday and almost the first one we look for is Tiger Woods who is playing his first tournament on these shores since the 2015 Open. Hard to believe it's nearly 20 years since he finished 7th at Carnoustie in the Open made famous by Jean Van de Velde's meltdown on the 72nd hole. Tiger begins this years campaign on Thursday with a lie in for his 3.21 pm start in the company of Hideki Matsuyama and fast rising Russell Knox. Russell has thrust himself into Ryder Cup selection with his recent win in the Irish Open and once could say that for him 'opportunity Knox' (apologies as I couldn't resist).
In terms of who could win, I think you have at least two dozen potential winners of the Claret Jug. Clearly World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is the first on anyone's list, but not sure he will like the firm fast conditions the competitors are facing this week. Defending champion Jordan Spieth has the ball control and short game to defend the title, but this will depend on if he can get the putter working to 2017 levels. On the home challenge, Justin Rose's form is trending nicely and Tommy Fleetwood's runner up in the US Open will fuel his belief that he is ready for a Major.
As to my own tip, I have gone for Rickie Fowler who had a solid Scottish Open last week and he really embraces the links challenge. You can see his swing here with the analysis that I did for Golf Monthly. I have to say I am an unashamed fan of his and if I was 30, okay 40 years younger I would be wearing orange as the great man does for his final round. There was a nice interlude last week where he popped in to see the juniors at Gullane Golf Club and chatted with them. To say they were excited was an understatement.
It looks to be a brilliant Open and I am really looking forward to going to Saturday's play with my wife Jennie to help me cheer Rickie along in person. We are staying for a few days for the Senior Open being held the following week at St Andrews, with an amazing field of admittedly "who was who" of golf. Former Major winners, 22 to be precise and 40 former Ryder Cup players plus a host of former Tour stars will pay homage to the hallowed turf of the Old Course. I also have a couple of good friends trying to qualify, so I have been roped in on the coaching and caddying front. Particularly looking forward to seeing Tom Watson sweep the ball majestically away and also marvel at Hale Irwin, who at 73 is officially the oldest swinger in the auld grey toon! By the way, he has beaten his age in 6 out of 8 rounds on the Seniors Tour this year!
On the subject of links golf, I was really fortunate on a recent trip with my friends at David Short Golf, to play the oldest links course in England, that of Royal North Devon. The golf course, still on its original site, is like taking a step back in time to see how golf was played over a hundred years ago. Not only was the course historic but the clubhouse has this really interesting museum with some amazing golfing memorabilia with hickory clubs and gutta percha golf balls from kings and cabinet ministers. To look out on the course and the adjacent sea from the clubhouse, there is a fine pair of binoculars from a German U-Boat, however no details as to their acquisition were given!
Back on the course the natural rustic feel was augmented by the sheep, goats and wild horses who roam around as they have for the last couple of centuries, intermingling with the golfers. They do know their etiquette and as you can see as one of our group got ready for her shot the horses move neatly out of the way.
The other thing I liked about the Club was it's strong Junior ethos. We saw plenty of juniors playing and taking lessons and most importantly having fun with this terrific game of ours. This allied to the warm welcome we received at the club, makes for me the standard of a great golf club.
Enjoy your golf in the brilliant weather we are having and the feast of golf we have in store from The Open and Senior Open.
All the best