Mark Townsend speaks to Laura DaviesJune, 2014
The English legend on playing in 30 consecutive British Opens
I won at Birkdale in 1986 and it was one of the easier wins. I have tried to win one of the 28 British Opens since! Sometimes when you are just playing and not worrying about winning it is a lot easier.
I have still got a picture of me with the candlesticks trophy in my games room. I obviously went on to win the US Open but at the time I couldn’t imagine winning a bigger tournament.
The British Open was always huge, it was the big one. Now it is a Major it is very different but the crowds were always very good and they might have been bigger then. I have always been very lucky with the amount of support I get at the Open and that is probably because of the way I play, and why Charley Hull is so popular today, people like to see that sort of golf.
If you want to become a proper Major in the UK then you have to go to links golf and we’re really lucky to have so many great courses. I love Sunningdale but I think it would be a backward step to have the Open there or away from a links, it doesn’t really fit it any more. The LGU have decided to go with the links option and they are spot on.
Of the English courses I think Lytham is the best bunkered but, for fairness, Birkdale is the best. There is the odd blind shot but it is basically what you see is what you get.
Overall I just prefer Lytham but Birkdale is certainly the fairest.
The weather always plays its part. At Hoylake I thought the decision to cancel the second round was a disgrace but that’s what can happen in links golf, it can be easy on one day and impossible the following day.
I have always thought my game would always suit links but I have never done particularly well I played three holes and was one under so I moved up about 40 places and then they called it off but hopefully that would never happen again.
I have always thought my game would always suit links but I have never done particularly well. My record is very poor and I don’t quite understand it as I do love them. There are always friends and family there and I might try too hard.
I love playing in the Majors but I don’t prepare any differently. Every tournament you are at has to be the most important as that is the only one you can win that week. All this preparing for Majors, I don’t get that.
If I haven’t played the course I’ll have a practice round. At St Andrews I played first out on the Wednesday and had the course to myself.
And I missed the cut.
You’d like to think that the Open will go to Muirfield, that would be lovely. I have commentated at St George’s and thought it was a brutal track but Muirfield would be unbelievable.
I turned pro at 21 in 1985; in my day that was quite young, now you would have been on tour for five years. Lydia Ko has already won three LPGA events and that is extraordinary but I think it will become the norm and we shouldn’t be too surprised. If they’re good enough, they’re old enough.
My favourite memory would be winning at Birkdale obviously but also walking up the 18th at St Andrews in a practice round in 2007, that was pretty special for the women’s game.
My favourite shot would be at Birkdale in 1986 – I hit a 2 iron from 230 yards into the 15th. I don’t know why I always remember that but on that links turf it was the purest strike I’ve ever had.
I still carry a 2 iron, I don’t have any woods other than a driver. I hit fairway woods too high. I’m a traditionalist.