The Open Notebook - Holiday over for Spieth as practice makes perfect
The world's best have now arrived in Carnoustie to work out their strategies before tackling one of golf's toughest tests.
Open traditions still humble Spieth
Jordan Spieth seemed a little surprised by the fanfare around his return of the Claret Jug - won in spectacular and dramatic style at Royal Birkdale.
“I thought I’d meet them in the parking lot and I’d hand it back there,” he said.
But no, tradition dictates the Champion Golfer returns the prize in a special ceremony on Monday, with packed stands on the first tee watching proceedings.
“It’s the coolest trophy that our sport has to offer,” added Spieth.
From Cabo to Carnoustie
Creatures of habit these golfers. Last year Spieth prepared for The Open by holidaying with friends in Cabo, the popular travel destination in Mexico.
He was famously photographed with a gang of sporting all-stars including Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps and NFL big-names Russell Wilson, and Dwight Freeney.
During his final round at Birkdale, caddie Michael Greller told him: “Do you remember that group you were with in Cabo last week? You belong in that group.”
Duly motivated Spieth closed out the title - and guess where he just went on holiday?
“Cabo just like last year - just a group of eight friends having a good time,” he said.
Advice for avoiding the big galleries this Thursday
There are some cracking first day tee-off times to look forward to - check them out here. But in addition to all the big names, you can avoid the big galleries when latching on to our pick of the rest, TheOpen.com writer Luke Baker has done the hard work so you don’t have to.
Practice makes perfect
Players are ramping up their preparations as Thursday morning ticks ever closer, with Tuesday being the third consecutive practise day for many.
There are plenty of tasty groupings teeing off for an all-important 18 as the pros start to truly get to grips with the particular challenges Carnoustie poses.
World No.1 Dustin Johnson and US Open champion Brooks Koepka go out at 8.10am, while Sean Crocker – whose father Gary was part of Zimbabwe’s first-ever Test cricket XI – is alongside Sergio Garcia at 9.20am.
A packed group at 10am includes 2013 Champion Golfer Phil Mickelson, the always entertaining world No.5 Jon Rahm and in-form Swede Alex Noren, while close friends Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas tee off ten minutes later.
Watching the group out at 11.10am will be good craic as Irish trio Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne hit the course together before it’s a family affair at 12.20pm when two-time Champion Golfer Ernie Els tees off with his nephew, amateur Jovan Rebula (Rebula’s mother is Els’ sister).
And a post-lunch treat for spectators sees big-hitting crowd favourites Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood heading for a round together at 1.20pm.
Swim here at your own risk
They’ll be plenty of birdies in the days ahead but a brave duck was spotted swimming down the infamous Barry Burn, which dissects the 18th fairway.
History tells us it will be a dangerous place for a paddle come Sunday - just ask Jean Van de Velde, Padraig Harrington or Andres Romero.
It may look innocuous but this could be golf’s definition of water torture.
Who will win the Hindsight Open?
It’s become very clear in the early practice rounds how important strategy will be in challenging for the Claret Jug.
When Tiger Woods won The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006 the links were running so hard and fast that the greatest player of the modern era chose to use his driver just once in 72 holes.
Some may choose the same approach at a sun-baked Carnoustie this week, with the fairways running quicker than the greens.
“Billy Foster, Lee Westwood’s caddie, said this could be the Hindsight Open,” said Ryder Cup player Chris Wood.
“On some holes, you could choose a driver off the tee or an 8-iron. If you hit an 8-iron and it rolls into a bunker, you’ll kick yourself for not using a driver. But if you do the same with a driver, you’ll kick yourself for not laying up with an 8-iron.”
Quote of the day
Padraig Harrington is promising to ‘smell the roses’ this week and enjoy the experience of playing where he won his first major title in 2007 - the first of three victories in slam tournaments in a space of 13 months.
“It would have been a lot simpler in my career if I’d won a major every five years but I’ll always be a three-time major winner,” he said. Before adding: “Unless I win four.”
Picture of the day
Rory is so good he can find the fairway with his eyes shut. The 2014 Champion Golfer is captured by the team at Getty Images
Who to follow this Thursday?
And finally - you can decide the feature group on TheOpen.com on Thursday morning by voting in our Twitter poll. Make sure to get involved.
#TheOpen - Vote Now 🏌️— The Open (@TheOpen) July 16, 2018
YOU pick who will be the feature group on https://t.co/Y0Ljiq6Hze for Thursday's morning session for full live coverage!
RT - Group 1️⃣9️⃣
❤️ - Group 2️⃣0️⃣
Full tee times 👉 https://t.co/Xihw4f1cQB pic.twitter.com/ctJAQ23t7Y
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