Tournament: The 150th Open Championship, July 14-17, 2022
Course: St. Andrews Golf Links (Old Course), par 72, 7,313 yards; St. Andrews, Scotland. Just north of Edinburgh and on the North Sea coast.
Purse: $14 million overall, $2.5 million to the winner. This, like in seemingly every other top-level golf event, is an extremely recent increase to the purse. If you follow golf, you’ll know why. If you don’t, drop a comment and I’ll respond.
Defending Champ: Collin Morikawa seized control early in the 4th round over Jordan Spieth. The Chosen One (Spieth) made a charge in the most recent legitimate example of “he’s back!”, but he wasn’t able to rein in the extremely solid Morikawa. It was Collin’s first British Open competition, and he’s on of a select few to win Champion Golfer of the Year in their debut.
Fun Fact: The course has many characteristics of a municipal park. Including townsfolk just walking around the property in the mornings and evenings, and you will see dogs running and playing pretty much every day (except this week when it hosts one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world). It’s a small village of 15,000 residents, and the University of St. Andrews has been around 600 years and is actually a very distinguished place of higher learning.
TV Times: Remember that this is in the UK, so you’d better have your sliderule out to figure out the time differences. Thursday-Friday, 1:30 a.m.-4 a.m. ET (Peacock), 4 a.m.-3 p.m. (USA). Saturday, 5 a.m.-7 a.m. (USA), 7 a.m.-3 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 4 a.m.-7 a.m. (USA), 7 a.m.-2 p.m. (NBC)
‘Dawgs in the Field: 7 . Harris English, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Keith Mitchell, Sepp Straka.
And here are the tee times:
Brian Harman 3:47 am ET (8:47 am GMT), paired with Pablo Larrazabal of Spain and former Masters champ Danny Willett of England.
Sepp Straka 4:14 am ET, paired with American Luke List and Justin De Los Santos of the Phillipines (don’t see many Phillipinos).
Kevin Kisner 5:31 am ET, paired with fellow Bulldog Chris Kirk, and Takuni Kanaya of Japan.
Russell Henley 7:42 am ET, going out with Swede Henrik Stenson and amateur Aldrich Potgieter from South Africa.
Harris English 9:37 am ET, with 2010 Open Champ Louis Oosthuizen and Keita Nakajima, an amateur hailing from Japan.
Keith Mitchell 9:48 am ET, paired with long-hitting Thomas Pieters and old man Padraig Harrington. They are probably going to get annoyed because they are playing immediately in front of Tiger Woods, Max Homa, and local favorite/Englishman/newly minted US Open winner Matthew Fitzpatrick. The crowds will try to get ahead of Tiger and these boys in order to snag a good spot to view them. That means the groups in front of them end up with boisterous and constantly moving crowds, who are much more concerned with glimpsing Tiger in 20 minutes.
As far as a preview, the only thing we (seem to) know is that the Old Course is playing hard and fast. Little rain and constant winds off the North Sea have given the turf some pretty quick tendencies. Tiger even joked that the fairways are running faster than the greens. That means that drivers are running 400+ yards, and the players will be driving par 4 greens. This will mean players on a tee box waiting until a par 4 green clears; which means backups and long rounds. But since the sun doesn’t go down until 10:30 or after in these latitudes, there’s little danger of calling play due to darkness.
There has also been plenty of talk that scores will be ridiculously low. There are obstacles aplenty, with 112 bunkers (the “Seven Sisters” for example), mounding (the “Principal’s Nose”), a public road that marks out-of-bounds, and of course hitting your tee shot over the Old Course Hotel. Literally teeing off over a hotel. Crazy stuff, man. But the course’s main defense is the wind. And the forecast currently says it will lay down for the next few days. Then again, its the coast of Scotland. Where the weather can change from hole to hole.
I’ve mentioned the dogs (using the course as a dog park) and Dawgs, the cat (the Big Cat himself), so what’s with the Shark?
Greg Norman, the Great White Shark, and 2 time Open Champion, asked for an exception in order to play in this 150th edition. Champions are invited back to play each year... until they turn 60. Norman falls into this category, but was denied a playing invitation. Then the Royal & Ancient (the ruling body that runs the Open Championship) literally disinvited Norman to the Champions Dinner Tuesday evening. D**k move? Probably. The publicly stated reasoning is that Normans LIV disruptions would bring poor press and attention to the R&A’s glorious revels and sesquicentennial. But you would be safe putting a tenner at your local pub that the R&A wanted to flip the bird to Norman and his Saudi-backed competitors.
All I know is after Breakfast at Wimbledon and the Rolling Stones at Hyde Park (2 shows!), the Brittish** now have the golf world’s eye once again upon its windswept links. And there will be Bulldogs all over it. As always...
**If the Declaration of Independence spells it that way, that’s the way I’m gonna spell it.