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A-Z of the Open

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Rob Hodgetts | 13:12 UK time, Monday, 13 July 2009

Golf fans, are you excited? You should be, the wait is over. It's Open week again, and this year's 138th Open Championship takes place at Turnberry on the west coast of Scotland.

To get in the mood, here's an A-Z guide:

A is for Ayrshire, the region of western Scotland that hosts Turnberry as well as Royal Troon just up the road. It's also for Ailsa Craig, the offshore granite islet which gave its name to Turnberry's Ailsa course. And airfield - Turnberry was used as a RAF base during World War Two and you can still see the runway.

B is for Seve Ballesteros, swashbuckling winner of three Opens (1979, 1984, 1988) who is recovering from a brain tumour. It's also for Birkdale, scene of Padraig Harrington's second straight Open victory 12 months ago. And it's for Britons - Paul Lawrie was the last Brit to win the Open, way back in 1999. And Bruce's Castle, the famous 9th at Turnberry, where you can see remains of the castle of Robert the Bruce, Scottish king from 1306-1329.

C is for Carnoustie, scene of Lawrie's triumph and Harrington's breakthrough major title in 2007. Carnoustie is also the longest-ever Open course at 7,421 yards. C is also for Claret Jug, or more accurately the Golf Champion Trophy, first presented in 1873. The original Claret Jug is on display in St Andrews - the current one has been around since 1928. The winner gets the trophy for one year, but keeps a replica. The champion is always asked what he will put in the jug to drink. Harrington's young son Patrick asked if he could put ladybirds in it.

D is for Duel in the Sun, the famous battle between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in the Turnberry Open of 1977. The pair left the field trailing in their wake as they threw everything they had at each other. Watson eventually won by one shot. D is also for David Duval, the former world number one and 2001 Open champion. Since then his game's gone south but he tied for second at the US Open in June, and was fourth at halfway at Royal Birkdale last year.

E is for Englishman, notably the fact that the last English player to win the Open was Nick Faldo way back in 1992 at Muirfield. Come on lads, where are you?

F is for Fin me Oot, the name of the 5th hole at Turnberry. The hole is so named because it keeps its secrets hidden, hence "Find me out". Other colourful hole names on the Ailsa course include Mak Siccar (Make sure, 2nd), Blaw Wearie (Out of breath, 3rd), Tappie Toorie (6th), Roon The Ben (7th), Dinna Fouter (Don't mess about, 10th), Ca Canny (Take care, 15th), Lang Whang (Long hit, 17th).

G is for Garcia. Seemingly the perennial bridesmaid. The Spaniard lost in a play-off for the Open in 2007, wilted in the final group with Tiger Woods in 2006 and has suffered a host of other near misses in the big ones. An Open specialist with six top 10s in his last eight championships. But a long-time holder of the "Best player never to have won a major" tag. Surely he will one day. Won't he?

H is for Harrington who is going for three Open titles in a row and a fourth major in all. The last man to achieve a hat-trick of Open titles was Australian Peter Thomson from 1954-6. Nine men have won back-to-back Open titles since 1900. Before Harrington, Tiger Woods also did it in 2005-2006.

I is for Ian as in Poulter, the Englishman who finished four strokes behind Harrington in second last year, and Baker-Finch, the Australian who won at Royal Birkdale in 1991 before his game collapsed completely.

Ian Poulter in action in last week's Scottish Open

J is for Jack Nicklaus , the greatest golfer of all time with 18 major titles (until Tiger has his wicked way), including three Opens (1966, 1970, 1978). Nicklaus was also second seven times. He played the last of his 38 Opens at St Andrews in 2005 when he bowed out in emotional fashion.

K is for Knight...of the Realm. And there's one in the field this week - none other than Sir Nicholas of Faldo, Open champion in 1987, 1990 and 1992. The former European Ryder Cup captain and six-time major winner was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in June. He'll be 52 on Saturday.

L is for Lighthouse, the iconic structure on a rocky promontory beside the 9th hole at Turnberry. It was built in 1873 by Thomas Stevenson, father of writer Robert Louis Stevenson. It's also for Sandy Lyle, the 1985 champion and first Briton to win for 16 years after Tony Jacklin's 1969 triumph. And it's for links, the name given to the type of courses Opens are played on - the dune-like coastal terrain is said to form a "link" between the land and the sea.

M is for Phil Mickelson . The world number two will miss the Open to be with his wife Amy who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. M is also for McIlroy. Young Rory stormed onto the scene with a first-round 68 as an 18-year-old amateur at Carnoustie in 2007. Two years later, the Northern Irishman goes to Turnberry as one of the most exciting talents in professional golf.

N is for Greg Norman, the Great White Shark, who won the Open at Turnberry in 1986 and triumphed again at Royal St George's in 2003. In a remarkable comeback at the age of 53, the veteran Australian created arguably the story of last year's Championship, leading going into the final day before falling back to finish third.

O is for Old Tom Morris, the oldest winner of the Open at 46 years 99 days in 1867. World number four Kenny Perry, who lost out in a play-off for the Masters in April, is 48, while world number 10 Vijay Singh will be 46 years and 147 days on Sunday.

P is for Price and Parnevik. Nick Price beat Jesper Parnevik to win at Turnberry in 1994 after the colourful Swede, thinking he needed to birdie the last, went for broke and made a bogey. Price carded a solid par to claim his first Open and second of three major titles.

Q is for Qualifying. Split into three stages: International Final Qualifying with tournaments in Asia, Africa, Australasia, the US and Europe; Regional Qualifying across 16 venues in the UK and Ireland - the 10 or so qualifiers from each venue go onto Local Final Qualifying where 96 players compete over 36 holes for four spots from each of three venues.

R is for R&A, the organisers of the Open and the game's governing body outside the US and Mexico. Not to be confused with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which is a private club with a membership of 2,400 worldwide.

S is for St Andrews, the town on the east coast of Scotland regarded as the home of golf . The Old Course has hosted a record 27 Opens and will stage next year's championship.

T is for Turnberry, which has staged three Opens previously, in 1977, 1986 and 1994. Since the last Open was held there, Turnberry has been lengthened by 247 yards and will measure 7,204 yards, playing to a par of 70.

U is for Under as in par. Tiger Woods holds the Open record with 19 under, against a par of 72, set at St Andrews in 2000. Woods's aggregate was 269. The lowest aggregate was Greg Norman's 267 (66, 68, 69, 64) for 13 under at Royal St George's in 1993.

V is for the venues, all 14 of them, which have hosted the 137 Opens stretching back to 1860. They are: Carnoustie (7), Muirfield (15), Musselburgh (6), Prestwick (24), Prince's (1), Royal Birkdale (9), Royal Cinque Ports (2), Royal Liverpool (11), Royal Lytham & St Annes (10), Royal Portrush (1), Royal St George's (13), Royal Troon (8), St Andrews (27), Turnberry (3).

V is also for Jean Van de Velde, the quirky Frenchman who famously blew a three-shot lead on the 18th at Carnoustie in 1999. And it's for Harry Vardon, who has won the most Open titles with six (1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914).

W is for Woods of the Tiger variety. The world number one, who missed last year's Open through injury, is chasing a 15th major title and a fourth Open. W is also for Tom Watson, winner of the iconic Duel in the sun and a five-time Open champion. And we might as well throw in W for wind and weather. Turnberry could be benign if it's calm and a monster if conditions deteriorate.

X is for, er, eXcitement. The Open has thrown up so many dramatic moments over the years, too many to list. Everyone's got their favourites. How about Harrington's play-off win over Garcia in 2007 for starters. OK, so that's not a great one for X. But see if you can do any better!

Y is for Young Tom Morris - youngest ever Open champion at 17 when he won at Prestwick in 1868. Since 1900, the youngest winner is Seve Ballesteros, who was 22 when he won at Royal Lytham in 1979. Rory McIlory, are you reading? Of course you are...

Z is for Zimbabwe, homeland of 1994 Open champion winner Nick Price. It's also for Zoeller, as in Fuzzy. The wise-cracking American was third behind Price and Jesper Parnevik at Turnberry that year.

If you've got any alternatives, I'd love to hear them so get in touch.

You can also follow my updates from the Open at Turnberry on Twitter.


  • Comment number 1.

    Norman's second Open came in 1993, not 2003

  • Comment number 2.

    Ben Curtis won at Royal St Georges in 2003.

  • Comment number 3.

    Cheers guys - Norman in 1993, clearly. Thanks for spotting it.

  • Comment number 4.

    I nicked this from, I think it`s worth reading this story again:

    Its been almost 40 years since Mr Lu Liang-huans brush with Open Championship glory. Japans Ryo Ishikawa and Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar, Open debutants at Turnberry this week, were not even born when the ex-Hong Kong Golf Club teaching professional carved himself a place in Open Championship folklore.

    It was at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in 1971 that the humble pro from Formosa, as Taiwan was then known, came agonisingly close to being crowned Asias first Major championship winner.

    Yet when Lu pitched up at Royal Birkdale 38 years ago, there was precious little fanfare. Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tony Jacklin and Lee Trevino, the heavyweight foursome of the day, would not have suspected that this smiling and courteous 34-year-old from the Far East might have the temerity to challenge them.

    Even though Lu had represented his country in the World Cup since the late 1950s and had numerous Asian Tour titles to his name, only a sprinkling of hardcore fans were aware of his strength of mind and short-game wizardry.

    Lu himself was just delighted to be there and excited about testing his wits against the best in the world. He set out his stall with an opening round of 70, which left him one shot off the pace set by Americans Trevino and Howie Johnson, Englands Jacklin and Argentinean Vicente Fernandez.

    Few expected Lu to hang around. But he did not disappear from the leaderboard after the second round nor the third round nor on the final day.

    And with each passing day he further endeared himself to the Lancastrian galleries, who had labelled him Mr Lu, a respectful reference to the players gentlemanly habit of tipping his pork-pie hat to the fans.

    After the second round, The R&As official account of the tournament recorded: Lu turned in a round of 70, his aggregate of 140 meaning he was just one shot off first position and was quickly becoming the crowd favourite.

    Paired together in the final flight on the last day, it soon became clear that the winner would come from the group featuring Trevino and Lu.

    With nine holes remaining, it was the wisecracking Trevino who was in control, leading by four. But Lu stood his ground and when Trevino ran up a double-bogey seven at the 17th, the Asian trailed by just one shot.

    The drama continued at 18 where Lus wayward tee shot struck a female spectator. Despite his obvious concern at her well-being, Lu regrouped to match Trevinos four at the last. His total of 279, however, was one more than the American.

    For his efforts, Lu (who went on to win the following weeks French Open) earned a cheque for £4,000. Nevertheless, it is a measure of the man that Lu was more concerned about the health of the lady he had inadvertently struck on the last hole than about the size of the cheque hed take home with him.

    I still remember that last round as if it were yesterday, recalled Lu during an interview with Asian Golf Monthly a decade ago. Not winning made me very sad yes, so sad.

    That is one of my big regrets. I feel that if I had won The Open that year, more Asian golfers would have been tempted to play in major events in Europe and America. Perhaps if I had won, it would have been different.

    So the message to 17-year-old Ishikawa and 21-year-old Bhullar and all other Asian players in Thursdays starting line-up is clear. You have a chance to create history for yourselves, your country and your continent. Give it your best shot, in the spirit of Mr Lu.

  • Comment number 5.

    Surely S is for Saltman; Lloyd & Elliot, two of the most exciting young golfers in Scotland both got through qualifying to become the first brothers since Seve & Manuel Bellesteros in 1983 to compete in the Open. Instead we name drop next years Open venue, Rob I expected so much better.

  • Comment number 6.

    D - is for Daly and his open win at St.Andrews. The "Wild Thing" tamed the greens and won a playoff after an incredible Constantino Rocca putt from off the green on 18 when it looked like Daly had it in the bag there and then.

    John Daly said that when he first set eyes on St.Andrews he knew it was the course for him. He was right! Go JD!

  • Comment number 7.

    H should have been for HD - what better way to view the premier golf tournement in the world than in glorious HD. Having seen the premier tennis tournement in HD, all golf fans will be getting excited at the prospect of the Open in HD.

    And then the realisation kicks in and you learn that the BBC can't be bothered to show the event in HD! Are well, at least my 2 year old can enjoy "In The Night Garden" in all it's HD splendour - he really appreciates it!

    So maybe N should read - Not in HD!

  • Comment number 8.

    J is for Jack Nicklaus , the greatest golfer of all time with 18 major titles

    in your opinion the greatest golfer of all time - easily the greatest of the modern era!

    no room on your list for Bobby Jones - who also has 3 open titles - he only played 4 times! which is a 75% strike rate!

    although he fell short of Jack's major haul he still won 13 majors and all that in only 21 majors played including the still to be equaled 'grand slam'. Giving him a win rate of 62% in all the majors he played - and all this while an amateur and gaining 2 degrees during his time as a golfer and working as a lawyer once qualified.

  • Comment number 9.

    Nine men have won back-to-back Open titles since 1900, the last being Tiger Woods in 2005-2006.

    Wouldn't the last player to win back to back Open Championships be Harrington?

  • Comment number 10.

    Surely L should be for Lawrie. The last Scot to win The Open.

  • Comment number 11.

    "7. At 8:34pm on 13 Jul 2009, Getpastthat wrote:
    H should have been for HD - what better way to view the premier golf tournement in the world than in glorious HD. Having seen the premier tennis tournement in HD, all golf fans will be getting excited at the prospect of the Open in HD.

    And then the realisation kicks in and you learn that the BBC can't be bothered to show the event in HD! Are well, at least my 2 year old can enjoy "In The Night Garden" in all it's HD splendour - he really appreciates it!

    So maybe N should read - Not in HD!"

    Surely this can't be true. Can anyone confirm this? If it is true it would rank as one of the worst decisions (and there have been many) that the BBC has made.

    And while I'm on the subject, why oh why is the BBC's HD channel not showing the same programmes as BBC1 or 2 at the same time more often? It seems to be treated as a completely separate channel, the logic of which escapes me.

  • Comment number 12.

    Wonder why the BBC has chosen your "I" nominee to be the poster child for your article, Rob?
    Perhaps because Mr.Poulter, who has yet to win The Open, embodies the "I" generation of sports people?
    Can think of no other reason for his inclusion, or his photo.
    Unless, of course, you know that he's going to be snapped during his backswing and the resultant fluffed Iron will cause him to never play The Open again??

  • Comment number 13.

    I tend to agree with you kwiniaskagolfer. I admire Mr Poulter for his skill and determination but we hear far too much about him for his relative standing in the game

  • Comment number 14.


    Am looking into the HD question for you.

    Worststripineurope, Mr Rossko, munrneil, dave-is-a-don - all good suggestions.

    Kwini - I'll let you into a little secret. We're conducting a survey among the hacks here in the media tent for a pundits predictions piece later and a fair few of them are tipping Poulter.

  • Comment number 15.

    Would be very interested to know the reason why the Open is not in HD but the Masters was?!

    Cost? Shouldn't be, unless the BBC use all it's own cameras and therefore for an event like the open where so many cameras are required the investment is too great.....but i find that hard to believe!

    An unbelievable shame and a poor advert to the rest of the world of THE OPEN, because i presume the rest of the world will use the SD BBC feeds?

  • Comment number 16.

    I believe the BBC is now promising that the 2010 Open will be in HD! Maybe the camera's get a nose bleed if they have to go up north - happy to stay in London covering Wimbledon.

    Only reason the Beeb shows the Masters in HD is that is not the host broadcaster - really shows us up to the world taking the BBC feed that the event is not in HD - it's hardly a new technology!

    Must go, Doctors is on in HD soon!

  • Comment number 17.

    I decided to sign up following the Ian Poulter posts on here. I have a real problem with golf (Tournament Golf) at the moment. I did my annual jaunt up to the stunning Loch Lomond course for the practice day last week and came away feeling quite depressed.

    So there I am at the 10th watching Els and Cabrera booming tee shots down the fairway - two of the best European (irony or what?) golfers in recent times and the crowd was non-existent. Where were all the fans - the teenage boys who should be watching and learning from these players? They were all chasing Poulter around!!


    Well the answer somes up the reasons that Britain has only produced one major winner since Faldo in 1996. We celebrate mediocrity!! Poulter for me is a peacock. What has he done in European golf let alone World golf? We accept toothless and substandard performances from Poulter, Casey and dare I say it, Monty.

    These crowds that followed Poulter should do so when the guy has achieved golfing fame and not only because he wears loud clothing.

    Later I was standing on the 18th tee at Loch Lomond when Olazabal walks on - argubly the best 'european' player since Faldo. The crowds? Nowhere. They were too caught up with Rory McIlroy in the group behind. Don't get me wrong the kid that skelp a ball a mile and he WILL win majors but the apparent lack of respect to a golfing great in Jose Maria was really quite sad.

    And don't get me started on the endless 'journeymen' pros with inflated egoes and entourages on the driving range...

    For me the only reason to watch The Open this year is Woods. He deserves all the acclaim and attention because he delivers.

    I sincerely hope Poulter wins for British golf's sake but for goodness sake people - call him and the countless other Brits to task for what I fear will be yet another mediocre performance with a massive cheque!

    PS The Open isn't on HD which is a total disgrace. Wimbledon reruns and Glastonbury are though - whoopee!

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm a big fan of Poulter's golf, but deplore his utterances and many of the things he does.
    No surprise the Press laps him up, but they abdicate their responsibility to their readers (and viewers) if they don't also take him to task for his stupidity. And worse.

  • Comment number 19.

    To all those wondering why the BBC is not showing the Open on HD,

    This from BBC TV's executive producer Paul Davies: "We are definitely broadcasting the Open in HD from 2010. The honest and clear answer is that the Open is an incredibly complex technical exercise and we are having a new truck purpose built, which will be finished in September.

    "The R&A are happy that we do it from 2010 onwards when we are completely geared up to do something on the scale of the Open.

    "We have learnt an awful lot from Wimbledon and the Six Nations and we're very excited about it for next year."

    Hope that helps.


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