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The 150th Open

The 150th Open


From the first dance to the first tee for Open hopefuls Alex Wrigley & Johanna Gustavsson

Alex Wrigley

From the first dance at their wedding to the first tee at St Andrews, it has been a whirlwind few weeks for Alex Wrigley and Johanna Gustavsson. 

The couple met in 2015 having been paired in the same group at a PGA fourball event in Spain and, seven years on, the newlyweds are each preparing to play in their respective Opens in the most unique of honeymoons. 

Gustavsson’s place in the AIG Women’s Open has long been secure, with the Swede enjoying her most successful Ladies European Tour season to date including several top-10 finishes and three runners-up spots. 

For Wrigley, however, teeing up at The 150th Open was far less of a certainty and represents the culmination of years of knocking at the door across Regional and Final Qualifying. 

The 32-year-old came through a dramatic play-off at Fairmont St Andrews to seal his spot and is hoping having his wife on the bag will help him adapt to his maiden major. 

“It’ll be the most people I’ve ever played in front of, so it’ll take a day or two to get used to” Alex Wrigley

“Johanna can bring her experience of playing in big tournaments to the role," he said.

“I’ve been at majors with Johanna quite a lot and I know what her preparation process is like, which I’ve taken a lot from over the years. 

“We haven’t talked about it from my point of view yet but as the week goes on, we will more and more. 

“We are quite similar, so I can’t imagine it’ll be too different to her approach, and I’ve learned a lot from being on the ground at the bigger tournaments. 

Alex Wrigley and Johanna Gustavsson

“I’ve also spoken to two or three people who have played before, from a similar sort of position to me, and all of them have said the same thing.

“You’ve got to get amongst it on the first few days, you can’t shy away from it on the practice days.

“You have to put your name down next to some big names and try and get used to what could happen at the back end of the week.

“I’ll try and play my practice rounds in the middle of the day and get among the crowds to get a feel of the place.

“It’ll be the most people I’ve ever played in front of, so it’ll take a day or two to get used to.” 

Wrigley has been Gustavsson’s coach since 2016 and the couple are based in Sweden, which also provided the backdrop for their exchanging of vows at the end of May. 

They have played together at the Old Course in the past but Wrigley knows it will be a different ball game next week, when he will be rubbing shoulders with those he has watched from the other side of the ropes in the past. 

“Me and Johanna played up there back in December 2016 when it was two or three degrees and we played off some forward tees, so I wouldn’t say it’s the best preparation for an Open,” he said. 

“Hopefully we’ll remember some of the holes as we go around and try and learn the course as much as we can in the first three or four days. 

“2003 was the first Open I went to, when I saw Ben Curtis win with my father and two grandfathers. The following year, my parents and I, and my best friend, who has just been best man at our wedding, were there to watch Todd Hamilton win the play-off. 

“I have tried qualifying almost every year since I turned professional aged 18, so to be there is surreal. 

“There are so many people who I’ve looked up to over the years who will be playing. A lot of the people from when I was growing up – Tiger [Woods], Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson –  it’s so special to be in the same field as those guys. 

“To be stood on the range next to Tiger would be a dream come true.” 

Alex Wrigley and Johanna Gustavsson

Wrigley still coaches at his boyhood club in Hartlepool and will be backed by plenty of friends and family across the week. 

Whether the nerves on the first tee are comparable to those at the altar remains to be seen but, just as on their big day, the presence of Gustavsson will be a crucial calming influence. 

And the current no.3 in the Race to Costa Del Sol paid tribute to her husband’s persistence as he prepares to fulfil a lifelong ambition. 

“I tried to follow qualifying closely and it was very nerve-wracking before the play-off,” she said. 

“I’m so happy for Alex. He hasn’t given up on his dream and that’s amazing. It will be a really exciting week to be a part of. 

“We don’t know if we are the first husband and wife to both play at The Open but nobody has told us of anyone else yet, so we hope we might be!”