When we think of the British Open we think of history, we think of the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Gary Player, and of course the likes of St Andrews, Royal St George’s and Muirfield.
This year the circuit’s oldest major has arrived in Hoylake at Royal Liverpool, but what makes this tournament, and in particularly links golf, so special?
Firstly, it’s unpredictable. US Open Champion Martin Kaymer recently said that “there’s never really a standard gold shot” on the links, and that’s true. The many factors of links, means each day can be different, and knowing the course is key.
Open Contender and current World Number One Adam Scott certainly knows this. Before the tournament he played five full practice rounds on the Wirral course before teeing off on Thursday, and would certainly be worth backing as a British Open champion with a Betdaq free bet, following his intense preparations.
Preparation is vital, but the uncertainty of weather along the coast can make it a nightmare for golfers, but incredibly exciting for fans.
The wind is of course a major problem to overcome, and this is perhaps why the Open is considered the most prestigious major of all, because it requires a heck of a lot of skill. Players need to control ball flight and spin in order to keep it as low as possible and out of the breeze, something of which was typified by Tom Watson in the late 70s and early 80s going on to win five Claret Jugs.
In essence, right across the course links play requires more skill, more understanding, and certainly more patience. Rory McIlroy grew up on links as a youngster, so it’s no surprise to see him lead the pack in the early stages at Hoylake, whilst others who have learnt their trade on the British courses have seen success in the last few years including Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington.
It’s a favourite for those with a solid short game, and for those wanting to improve theirs. Typically built on sand dunes and often very large, it can often leave a tough task when you’ve finally made the green, with run off areas cut very short, making a mountain out of even the tiniest of errors.
Throughout the courses the beauty of playing links golf is the challenges the tiniest errors leave you. It’s difficult to get a pretty round as the wind blazes in from the ocean, but like any sport – you can’t help admire the touch of class, talent, and sheer skill that sees a player through adversity.
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Nike have Tiger and Rory, Oakley have Bubba and Zach, Hugo Boss have Martin Kaymer and even Adidas Ashworth have Justin Rose; leaving Puma Golf as one of the only major brands who do not currently have a major winner on their books. However, that could all change in the very near future as the likes of Jonas Blixt and Graham DeLaet are beginning to bolster their major winning potential which, in turn, also eases the pressure on Rickie Fowler who had been relied upon for so long by this German powerhouse of a golf brand.
Jonas Blixt has been part of Puma Golf for three years now and having signed a long-term contract extension in 2013, he looks set to remain with the brand which he fits in so perfectly with. A bit more elaborate, a bit more eccentric, a bit more fun – the Puma Golf brand know how to set themselves apart from the crowd and Blixt is now an integral part of the brand’s repertoire. Two professional tour victories and some stellar performances on the big stage (4th at the US PGA Championship 2013, T2 at the US Masters 2014) certainly add weight to the argument that Jonas Blixt has the game, the nerve and the composure for the biggest occasions.
Even at the European Tour’s flagship event last week, Jonas was always somewhere around the top of the BMW PGA Championship leaderboard. It would also appear that he loves coming back to Europe to play with a T26 finish at The Open in 2013 followed by a 2nd place at the Nordea Masters in Sweden, too. Jonas has also been confirmed for the 2014 Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen, which is due to be played just a week before the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, and it would be difficult not to consider Jonas for a top five finish at either of these events in the UK this Summer.
Equally so, not many will be able to discount Rickie Fowler from the running at the 143rd Open Championship, either. Managing T10, T19 and T5 finishes in three of his last four majors – Rickie Fowler is another who loves the big stage and will relish the opportunities provided by the Hoylake links course. The only blemish on Fowler’s Open record was at Muirfield last year; T14, T5 and T31 finishes in his other three appearances confirm that his daring and creative game is perfectly suited to links golf. It has also been well documented that Rickie has been working closely with Butch Harmon this season and with some slight inconsistency still apparent; it is only a matter of time before it all comes together and culminates in a major victory.
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Graham DeLaet is another strong prospect for a major championship title. Having signed with the brand in January of this year, the Canadian has not necessarily shown great form in his only two major starts but several second place finishes on the PGA Tour would seriously suggest he is a player out of the top drawer. Even if he doesn’t quite manage to contend at the four majors, he is incredibly marketable and wears the Puma Golf brand superbly well – both of which will further reduce the pressure and retract some of the attention away from Rickie Fowler on the major stage. The US Open at Pinehurst is the next major on the 2014 calendar with the Open at Royal Liverpool soon after; it will be very interesting to see whether a Puma Golf athlete can finally fulfil their major winning potential.
Online golf clothing store Function 18 has today announced the launch of their anticipated Masters promotion.
With 10% off all orders over £10 and 15% off all orders over £100, now is the perfect time to stock up on your golf clothing & accessories in time for the summer season.
The promotion is available across all major golf brands available online at Function18 including Oscar Jacobson, Nike Golf, Puma Golf, Adidas Golf and Hugo Boss, and will run throughout the Masters tournament until Sunday 13th April.
Take advantage of this great promotion this weekend and visit www.function18.com
Infographic from www.function18.com
David Bryce is a freelance writer and long-time golfer who concedes that the most hazardous part of his game are the fat, imported cigars he likes to smoke. When he’s not working on this putt, you can usually find him blogging or yelling at the television.
On occasion, heated debates take place over USGA’s Rule 26: The Water Hazard. The one aspect never contested is the unending belief that water hazards are inherently tricky. And that they’re responsible for millions of dollars lost in sunken white balls across the world (though fishing them out is a pretty hefty underground racket).
At my local course, Thousand Hills, the Ozarks create their own hazards, one of which is avoiding driving you ball into the Branson cabins. Amongst unique worldwide water hazards, two distinctive types stick out: those bearing predators and those featuring impossibly wide gaps.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most interesting of both…
The lake along the 15th fairway of Carbrook Golf Club in Queensland, Australia gets a lot of press. Home to a handful of bull sharks rumored to have washed ashore during a flood several years ago, this is no urban legend. Said to be 8-10 feet long, they’re real, they’re hungry, and they’ve basically become the mascot and flagship for the entire course. Though slightly unnerving, the sharks have yet to attack a player.
Being built in the crater of an extinct volcano isn’t the dangerous feature of the Lost City Golf Course in Sun City, South Africa. The pond along the 13th hole that contains nearly 40 adult Nile crocodiles definitely is, however. Amid some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet, the snapping snouts rarely come into play, but that’s no reason to drop your guard.
Upon entering Skukuza Golf Course in Kruger National Park, South Africa, a sign warns, “Beware: Dangerous Animals. Enter at Your Own Risk.” Naturally, if you’re here, you’ve already signed the safety waiver and are expecting a little danger. This course introduces a new peril: hungry hippopotami, widely thought to be the most dangerous animal in Africa. While warthogs and lions have been known to wander onto the greens, this entire course circles around Lake Panic, where the 8,000 lb. beasts eyeball every move you make.
Set along a beautiful, expansive lake, the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho features a par-3 floating 14th hole. Unique for its mobility, this isn’t an actual island and can be moved according to computerized tracks. Assuming you land on the green, the Putter Boat takes you for a little ride and afterward, whether you sunk the ball or not, you’re issued a Certificate of Achievement for just playing. This is also the only course I’ve played out of all listed here.
At the world-class Cypress Point Club, a private course in Pebble Beach, California, an ocean stands between you and the 16th hole. Literally, the Pacific Ocean. Requiring a 231-yard drive amidst crashing waves, coastal wind and dive-bombing seagulls, even professionals often list this as one of the most intimidating tee-offs in the world.
Boasting the only natural island water hazard in the world, the Pacifico Golf Course in Punta Mita, Mexico is also exquisitely picturesque. Known as the Tail of the Whale, hole 3B is on an offshore atoll where the green was designed by none other than Jack Nicklaus. At low tide, you can walk to the island on a sandbar; the rest of the time, an amphibious golf cart shuttles you to finish the hole.