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This might be Phil Mickelson’s final Open at St Andrews – if things play out a different way this might be his final Open. For years he didn’t have a very happy relationship with the game’s oldest Major but then, slowly but surely, he got the hang of it and fell in love with it.
Going back to Muirfield he was certainly one of the Open’s most popular champions, he treated the course with the right level of respect and then struck brilliantly. Three years later he left Troon as possibly the unluckiest runner-up in Open history.
The left-hander would finish the Championship three shots back of Henrik Stenson, after going at each other for the whole of the weekend, and 11 shots clear of third place. Any other year and he might have won it by a distance.
He’s 52, a reigning Major champion as recently as a couple of months ago and yet we’ve barely seen him. Until the tee times came out many wouldn’t have even known that he’d made the trip. There would be no champions’ get-together on the Monday and, when he did emerge, it looked like he had forgotten how to dress for golf.
There was no press conference and, more tellingly, he was partnered with Lucas Herbert and Kurt Kitayama, both strong players but outside the top 50 in the world. They would go out in the sixth group out at 7.30am UK time which is 2.30 in the morning Eastern time.
The only dealing he had with the media, in an official capacity, was his post-round mixed zone chat that was, from the outside at least, as nauseating and prickly as you would expect.
“I couldn’t be happier (repeat to fade)..”
I’ve just seen Phil. It was going to take something special to get him on the box and, here he is, chipping one off the road.
What about Bryson? Bryson’s a show-stopper so much so that we’ve spent parts of the past few years wondering what he’s going to do to the Old Course. Will he actually try and drive the opening hole? What par does he view the Old Course as if he sees Augusta as a 67?
Is Bryson here this week? Oh, there he is in the group two behind Phil. So that would be 2.52 in the morning in front of his own fans.
What about the home favourites – there’s Westy at four-under and well inside the top 10 for most of day one. No disrespect to Stephen Dodd and JT Poston but surely Lee John is a banker to be thrust into a three ball as either the star attraction or at least a strong supporting actor.
Brooksy? He’s good at Majors, so good he’s got four of them in the last 20. Is Brooksy still injured?
Tiger is a bit of a unique case but, after a handful of holes on day one his race was run. And yet we didn’t miss a shot, all 153 of them.
It's almost as if whoever is controlling the TV twiddles and getting the pictures to us has a bit of an agenda – and they'll likely be praying that DJ and his new pals don't make much of a run at it.
Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.
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