The French football team may have lost their dominance of European football but French golfers are dominating European golf with a succession of winners, culminating in Thomas Levet´s superb closing 63. Not only did he win the Scottish Open at the beautiful Loch Lohmand but also the last remaining qualifying place in the British Open, which started yesterday at Troon on the West Coast of Scotland. And what are the chances of a French winner? Well, Levet himself lost a play-off to Ernie Els two years ago at Muirfield and 750 – 1 outsider Ben Curtis, won the Open last year – so anything is possible!
There is no doubt that of the 156 players who tee it up on Thursday in the first round, there will be at least 100 who, not only have the game to win, but actually believe that they can. This may seem obvious since they are in the tournament so they must have a chance to win.
However, the fact is that many will simply be happy just to be there, enjoying the experience but not actually have the frame of mind to win the event. While the big names will still start as favourites, links golf will make it highly likely that another new name will appear on the Open Trophy.
I have just returned from the Final Qualifying at Turnburry, 96 players competing for four places in the Open. I was nowhere near but I am hoping that the experience of playing links golf will stand me in good stead for the British Seniors in Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland, which takes place next week. It was great to see Mark James, a regular visitor to the Algarve, winning one of the Major Seniors Championships in America and winning 200,000 pounds sterling, by far the largest cheque of his illustrious career. He will no doubt be playing in Ireland so I hope to congratulate him in person.
My next article will cover the Open results but also, on a completely different subject, I will be commenting on what golf courses in the Algarve are doing to try and regain the market of golfers so obviously absent this year.
Just a note to congratulate Pinheiros Altos Captains, Mr. Bill Copestake and Mrs. Molly Wainwright on their joint Captain’s Day, which was undoubtedly a huge success.
So enjoy the Open on the BBC (no adverts, yippee!).
By BRIAN EVANS
Director of Golf,