The Open will return to Carnoustie for the eighth time
This is the course that Tiger Woods calls "the hardest links golf course there is."
This is the course that reduced a young Sergio Garcia to tears during The 128th Open in 1999.
This is the course that broke Jean Van de Velde’s heart and made Paul Lawrie a national hero.
This is the course that has needed a play-off to decide the winner in each of the last three occasions it has hosted The Open.
This is the course that welcomes back the great and the good of the golfing world in 2018 for a true links test with the reward of being crowned Champion Golfer of the Year.
At 7,421 total yards, Carnoustie is the longest course on The Open rota. Its 112 bunkers are pock marked all over the Angus links while the infamous Barry Burn snakes throughout it. Carnoustie also has what Lawrie calls: ‘the toughest closing hole in golf.’ And he should know. It might be called ‘Home’ – but there is nothing comforting about the near 500-yard par four 18th. With the wind whipping in off the North Sea, the Barry Burn desperate to snatch up anything off line and the fairway bunkers on the right showing their teeth – it is a hole that sums up an entire course.
Seven times before has Carnoustie hosted The Open, most recently back in 2007 when Padraig Harrington held off Garcia in a play-off to claim the Claret Jug.
Before that it was 1999 and Lawrie’s remarkable rise but then you must go back 24 years – all the way to 1975 for Tom Watson’s win. Again it needed extra holes as Watson – in his first-ever Open – held off Jack Newton in an 18-hole play-off.
And who can forget Ben Hogan – after whom hole 6 is now named Hogan’s Alley – and his title back in 1953 on his first and only playing of The Open.
The stars align
Jordan Spieth will arrive as the Champion Golfer of the Year but defending the Claret Jug will be tough with current world number one, Dustin Johnson, in good form and Rory McIlroy showing encouraging signs following injury. Similar can be said of another:
Truth is that all eyes will be on one man when Carnoustie comes around – the returning Tiger Woods. He last played The Open in 2015 and will be keen to hit form at the Angus links.
The three-time Claret Jug winner has made no secret of his desire to return to Angus this year – the site of his first ever foray into links golf back in 1995 when it hosted the Scottish Open.
There are so many names to throw into the hat as well – what about 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson who so memorably tamed Royal Troon?
Not to forget England’s Tommy Fleetwood – the reigning European Tour money winner and – incidentally – the man who conquered Carnoustie last year. At the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October of last year, Fleetwood was on fire – marking his card for a 63 and the new course record. Could we see another major record this summer like Branden Grace shooting 62 at Royal Birkdale last July?
Former and future champions
There will also be those star names from years gone by for a trip down memory lane.
Fans favourites Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Darren Clarke will look to add another Claret Jug to their mantlepiece. Don’t forget Sandy Lyle – in the final year of his exemption and will experience plenty of encouragement from the home fans.
But the future looks bright as well – young stars like Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have already broken into the top five in the world.
And Spieth himself is no veteran at the age of only 24. The young American won at Royal Birkdale last year and could become the first man since Harrington to win the Claret Jug back to back.
All that and so much more is on the line, the dreams and the dramas of another Open Championship at Carnoustie. Be part of forever this summer.
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