OPEN GOLF: Ken on the course

News & Tour

BBC commentator Ken Brown on Royal Lytham and who can win

THE COURSE

It was always one of the toughest. It was shortish but one of the most taxing playing wise. It has so many bunkers and the rough was always up.

These days they endeavour to make it harder and harder and it is relentless. I have got nothing against the toughness but I saw a lady, who was about a 12 handicap, playing the short 12th. She was in the front right bunker and made three nice efforts to get the ball out, each time it came out but then trickled back in.

And she picked her ball up and I wondered if we were doing a disservice to the game. It may be beautiful for the likes of Ernie Els but for the run-of-the-mill golfer it’s too much.

THE CONTENDERS

If it gets fast and dry it will be to Tiger’s advantage as he can put the driver away and hit more irons. Phil Mickelson is a high long hitter but he does make a tremendous effort to hit three-quarter shots at the Open.

I think at times he has struggled with the pace of the greens. The greens at Lytham are very honest and there are no hidden surprises. They won’t be particularly quick but will be a decent pace.

I don’t think it is a course that suits any specific style of play, it is strategic and your short game has to be on the money so Luke Donald springs to mind. Tony Jacklin was in 11 bunkers and got up and down 10 times.

THE ENTERTAINER

If I was a paying punter I would go and watch Rory McIlroy. He doesn’t need to change his game for the Open, Watson or Nicklaus never changed their game. Watson didn’t even try and flight the ball lower, he might take an extra club into the wind but he didn’t try and shunt it under the wind like Darren Clarke does.
THE club
They have done some good things and it is a nice club. The pro, Eddie Birchenough, is five star  and it is so welcoming which isn’t always the case at Open venues. In my day I had no interest in any clubhouses but I love Lytham’s.
If I was a paying punter I would go and watch Rory McIlroy. He doesn’t need to change his game for the Open, Watson or Nicklaus never changed their game.

THE SET-UP

As soon as the pin is 16 on and four from the left and you miss on the wrong side you have to have ace ability to play it. The 9th, for example, is easy when it is in the middle of the green but, with a bit of breeze and a tucked away pin, it is very different.
Can it be overpowered? It depends on the wind and the depth of the rough. If there is not much rough then you can start aiming inland. If you can still reach the green from some of the new bunkers then maybe but it doesn’t strike me as a bombers’ type of course.

MY OPEN RECORD

I suppose I had two reasonable chances to win the Open going into the last round. I love links golf and I love the Open with a passion.

I was in the last group with Tom Watson at Muirfield in 1980 and I was one of a lot of people who had a chance when Faldo won there in 1987. I suppose I got what I deserved, if I believed in myself a bit more I could have done a bit better which could be said for the rest of my career.

I played in 14 Opens. I had some great pairings: Seve, Trevino and Nicklaus. And in those days you only got to play with the Americans at the Open.

THE 1st

It is never easy starting with a short hole. In the old days you were basically on your own and you were sheltered from the wind by some trees which have now been taken out. It is a tough start.

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