The wait is finally over as on Monday the 20th of February 2017 the host course for the 149th Open Championship was announced. From the 16th to the 19th of July 2020 Royal St George’s in Kent will hold the oldest of all four of golf’s major championships and arguably the most prestigious as the world’s best go head to head at some of game’s oldest courses for the coveted Claret Jug.
The Open Championship is played at 14 different courses across the U.K many of which are considered some of the best links set ups in the world. The Old Course at St Andrew’s which is the ‘home of golf’ is the most famous of all courses and has hosted the Open a record 29 times and looks set to do so again in 2021 for what will be the British Open’s 150th birthday.
However, the 2020 host, Royal St George’s is considered by many to be one of the finest links golf courses in the world. The glorious golf holes weave their way through the stunning Kent countryside, gifting players with unrivalled views of the English Channel and the surrounding scenery. In March 2015, the club passed the all important motion of allowing female members and hasn’t looked back since. The current club captain is extremely excited about the prospect of hosting the 2020 Open Championship saying it is “…tremendous news for the club and a wonderful commercial opportunity for Sandwich, Thanet and Kent.”
Royal St George’s has hosted the Open Championship no less than 14 times and has been the scene of some thrilling major showdowns. Some of the game’s greatest such as Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman and Henry Cotton have been crowned the Champion Golfer of the year here, emphasising the incredible standard of golf one needs to play in order to win an Open.
Darren Clarke’s 2011 Victory
Clarke is the most recent Open Championship winner at Royal St George’s after winning in 2011. Clarke went into the final round with a 1 shot lead over Dustin Johnson. However, it was Phil Mickelson was the first man to apply the pressure after going out in 30 to leave him level with Darren at the turn but this was not to last as 4 drop shots in 6 holes put Phil out of contention placing the onus of Dustin Johnson to take the trophy from Clarke and he looked like getting close to doing so until his tee shot went out of bounds on the 14th giving the Northern Irishman a four shot cushion. Darren eventually went on to win by 3 shots. Reflecting on his win in 2011 Clarke said he achieved his boyhood dream by winning the Open and that “…it was an unbelievable feeling to lift the Claret Jug and know that my name was displayed on the trophy alongside so many of the greatest players ever to play the game.”
Thomas Bjorn’s Bunker Bother
In 2003 Thomas Bjorn had one hand on the Claret Jug. Until the 70th hole of the tournament…
Many people say that consistency is the key to being able to play sport at the highest level but if you posed this debate to Thomas Bjorn following his nightmare on the 16th hole at Royal St George’s in 2003 I’m sure he would disagree. Following an errant tee shot Bjorn ended up in the green side bunker and unfortunately he then completed a feat many players find impossible; the ability to play the same shot twice in a row. After failing to get out the bunker in 2 attempts the ‘Great Dane’ went onto make double bogey. Bjorn squandered a 3 shot lead, leaving the door wide open for world number 396, Ben Curtis to become the first player since 1913 to win the first major he had entered.
Sandy Lyle’s First Major
In 1985 Sandy Lyle finally broke his drought and won his first Major. The Scott was 3 shots behind 3rd round leaders, Bernhard Langer and David Graham but after they both posted 75s on the last day Lyle’s incredibly consistent game prevailed. After looking in a spot of trouble of the 14th, he put on an incredible short game display holing out from 45 foot for birdie and went onto the become the first Scott to win the Open since James Braid did in 1910.
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