The British Open blog

Now is not the time to tell you how I got there, but I will later. But I was at Royal St George’s in 1993 to see Norman win The Open. Given the course is on the coast at Sandwich it was a sub-editor’s delight. History and all that.

I went to see The open, but especially to see Jack and Seve.

I blamed them for my golf game in those days. I still do. When I was learning the game I tried to hit it like Seve. And I was a lag-putter, like Jack. It nearly had me put away.

I got to Royal St George’s for the third day. Jack hadn’t missed the cut in 31 years at The Open. He did that year.

Seve survived, and had a middle-of-the-field tee-time.

I went hunting him.

On the way I found Nick Price, who was driving his irons low and hard, and the emerging John Daly, who was driving everything high and hard, even his sand iron, which took fairway divots the size of Tuvalu.

Daly had famously driven the fifth green, a slight dog-leg to the left in the practice round, taking his line over a large mound upon which were perched hundreds of Poms in handkerchief hats. Even Nicklaus commented on Daly’s audacity and power.

I was behind that mound at fairway level when it became clear Seve was in the area. My maths had proven correct. He was on the sixth tee which was hidden from view. The three-ball played.

I knew which of the three shots to the green was Seve’s by the warmth of the applause.

I will never forget what then happened.

Quite a few had gathered in the vicinity. At the very moment the Spaniard came in to view from behind the mound, those around me, whispered in choral unison, ‘Seve’.

He must have been able to hear the breathy chorus: he looked towards us all and beamed a big Seve smile. He looked at once confident and troubled. Like a man with a mighty golf game; like a schoolboy wondering if he was supposed to change for PE before school or before the lesson. Vulnerable. Beautiful.

He didn’t challenge, but quite a few did. The standard of golf was memorable. Langer struck he ball superbly, but made a few mistakes. Faldo took aim, and that’s where the ball headed, like a bullet. Manic Poms scurried after him with the look of un-nourished patriots. Carrying their three-step ladders. Norman, in his own words, was awesome. He swung the club fast, in the days when you still had to.

I was an innocent. Encouraged by the success of our sign at Headingley, BUNDHILL BOYS ON TOUR FEED THE CAT, which tickled Tony Greig enough for him to keep referring to it, I stood by the huge  bunker at the fourth and waved at the camera. No-one in Australia saw me.

The Open is a magnificent tournament. It is truly international. Golfers you’ve never heard of like Mr Lu and Jumbo emerge from Asia, Kiwis and Aussies are there, Africans and Indians, Europeans and Americans.

I love it.

(And I’ve had a few quiet ones on Y.E. Yang)



About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. johnharms says

    And on cue, Daly goes to one under in the opening holes.

  2. …this is where pay TV is great. 6pm coverage starts. Fantastic.

    Loved the quote attributed to a Japanese player (unjokingly of course)’
    “Why don’t they play the Championship in Summer?”!

    And the commentator suggesting that Ryo divert “some of that Japanese money” (he’s donating his season’s prizemoney to their disaster appeal) to buying a new hat!

  3. I was just talking to a mate sitting in a noisy Bondi pub trying to watch the golf. We concluded that this is one of the very few events where the commentary adds value.
    By contrast I watched a footy game in a pub last week. No commentary except the bar crowd’s asides…so much better.

  4. Is a “lag-outer”:
    a) A chronic slicer;
    b) A long putt that stops on the lip of the cup;
    c) Someone who dobs in his mate for having too many sherbets and chasing skirt;
    d) An an anagram of “lager lout”???
    Think I’ll have to phone a friend, JTH.

  5. johnharms says

    PB,lag-putter. The automatic spell-checker is clearly not a golfer.

    Tough conditions for the opening round. They’re struggling to get it close, then struggling with the putter.

  6. Peter Flynn says

    I need one more Open to equal Peter Thomson.

    My spectating titles were Royal Troon (’97), Royal Birkdale (’98), Muirfield (’02) and Royal Troon (’04).

    Given that it was 7 years between Thomson’s 4th and 5th triumphs, I should be there now.

    With brevity due to other demands, my Open highlights not in any ranking order include:

    Drinking beer and eating bacon baps in a hospitality tent on the Sunday morning with the UK Waste (Glasgow) girls that I encountered the previous night.

    Occasionally getting in on a junior ticket.

    Watching the pairing of Jack Nicklaus and Payne Stewart score 67ishes at Troon.

    Getting Jack’s autograph on the 10th at Troon. And having a two-reply conversation with the Great Man.

    Getting up at 4am to watch a Tiger Woods practice round.

    Watching Tiger Woods drive a 400-yard Par 4 at Troon. He parred the hole after driving it into the greenside pot.

    Watching Ernie Eels ace the Postage Stamp at Troon.

    The 4-hole Muirfield play-off that included Appleby and Elkington. And included Levet who recently celebrated victory in the French Open by jumping in the lake and cracking a fibula.

    Justin Rose chipping in at the 18th at Birkdale.

    Watching gun golfers hit driver-driver to 400-yard Par 4’s at Birkdale. Seve, Tom W etc.

    Trying to find Gary Evans’s lost ball (2nd shot to a Par-5) at the 17th at Muirfield when in contention. He knocked his 4th to about 50 feet and then sank the putt. He, and we, went effing mad.

    Watching self-confessed alcoholic (and amateur) Barclay Howard achieve a life-long dream and lead the Open for about an hour during the first-round.

    I endore JTH’s remarks. A great event to absorb.

  7. Peter Flynn says

    Tom Watson aces the 6th.

    One of the great moments. Not quite Sarazen at the Postage Stamp in ’73 but up there.

  8. johnharms says

    Commentator on John Daly’s dacks: “Looks like he got the curtains in his last divorce.”

  9. johnharms says

    Jimenez warming up – callisthenics, with cigar

  10. Peter Flynn says

    Jimenez squatting etc was one of the funniest sights I’ve ever seen in sport.

    The squat in particular wouldn’t be advised after a night of paella and sangria.

  11. johnharms says

    Superb links weather for Day 3. How will Jimenez keep his cigar alight?

  12. leave “big mig” alone…my early tip!

    This is “Four Yorkshireman” conditions. Gripping (or not, if you are a player!).

  13. Tim Ivins says

    Absolutely horrendous weather here today but it’s cleared a lot this afternoon, helping the leaders immeasurably. Expect more of the same tomorrow – going to be very hard for the pack to catch up.

  14. johnharms says

    Tim, very envious of you. Although it was dry and cosy inthe lounge room last night. Anyone’s Open I’d reckon.

  15. johnharms says

    Go Sergio. How did that eagle putt on the seventh stay out?

  16. Saw your post JTH and immediately went to the Open website, not having Foxtel at home. Sergio one off the lead after 7 with Seve on his shoulder. Magic stuff. Love those moments in sport when the divine seems to be playing. Like Jack’s final Masters at 46 years of age. Remember watching that and knowing that the impossible was becoming the inevitable.
    Go Sergio – you are the romance and spirit of sport. Darren can hang on, but if a Dustin wins then its Hitchens/Dawkins 1 – Lutherans/Catholics 0.

  17. Peter Flynn says

    I regret not ever having my name called out by Ivor Robson.

  18. Tim Ivins says

    Great start for Darren Clarke – as a confidence golfer, it bodes well.

  19. Peter Flynn says


  20. johnharms says

    Re you and Ivor PJF, could that be a premature capitulation?

    Could get Ivor to do the Almanac golf day.

  21. Tim Ivins says

    Huge Putt there from Clarke. Eagle on the 7th, it’s down to him and Mickelson surely.

  22. Peter Flynn says

    I might attempt a Maurice Flitcroft.

  23. johnharms says

    If that is rhyming slang PJF, it’s the most complex I’ve encountered.

  24. Peter Flynn says

    Apologies if you know this but M G Flitcroft (crane driver from Cumbria) entered the Open Championship in 1976 not ever having played a round of golf.

    His round of 121 in Open Qualifying is the highest score ever recorded.

  25. johnharms says

    I think I’m barracking for storm and tempest in the hope the tension returns.

  26. Peter Flynn says

    Short-sleeved shirts should now be mandatory attire for the Open.

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