The Open ready to fill the void and keep endless sporting summer rolling

first_imgfeatures Share on Messenger Read more This will change, of course. As the World Cup and Wimbledon reach abrupt conclusions, golf will be left to fill the void. If Woods’s return naturally draws attention, so too should a multitude of other storylines; can Rory McIlroy return to the major winning circle, will Tommy Fleetwood deliver the marquee success surely inevitable, will the defending champion, Jordan Spieth, rediscover his brilliance in the kind of environment in which he thrives?Golf’s battle for relevance has never been more intense, meaning it relies on events such as the Open to capture wavering imaginations. Another such competition, the Ryder Cup, follows later this year.In between the Open and that eagerly awaited showdown between Europe and the US in France fall the Women’s British Open, the US PGA Championship, the 25th edition of the Evian Championship and the conclusion to the FedEx Cup – $10m bonus payment and all.Carnoustie has a propensity to attract drama. The 1999 escapades of Jean van de Velde were instantly the stuff of golfing legend, rendering it such a pity that the eventual champion, Paul Lawrie, will not feature next week because of injury. When the Open returned to the Angus coast, in 2007, an emotional Seve Ballesteros announced his retirement from the game, Gary Player insisted drug-taking was rife in golf and Padraig Harrington saw off the shattered Sergio García to claim the Claret Jug. Follow that, class of 2018.The main precursor, the Scottish Open, takes place at Gullane from Thursday. The tournament has been weakened by the late withdrawals of Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson, with the latter’s elbow problem rendering him a doubt to participate at Carnoustie. Recent weeks have also proven the problems as associated with the European Tour’s scheduling of three blue-chip, Rolex Series events in as many weeks and immediately before the Open. Each field has suffered to a certain degree. It is sad but true that tournaments which pay high appearance money, such as the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi, seem to hold more appeal for the world’s best players than European Tour events where the prize fund is boosted to $7m.Justin Rose, a former Scottish Open winner, pointed towards competitive “rhythm” as key to his decision to feature in East Lothian. Rose conceded American dominance of majors – the US currently holds all four – is potentially significant with the Ryder Cup within view. The Open Championship’s marketing theme has been perfectly obvious in recent times. Rather than preside over an event which captures hearts and minds way beyond traditional domains of golf for just one week, the R&A wants its major to feature in the general consciousness for 12 months of any given year. Emotional – and ticket – investment is sought as the golf season rumbles on from Georgia to Gullane.If this was a bold ambition before, consider the case of this sporting summer. The Open – in which Tiger Woods will feature for the first time since 2015 – is days away. Not that you’d know it. With the football world consumed by events in Russia, Wimbledon’s terrestrial TV coverage spiking tennis interest once more and the Tour de France commanding the attention of middle-aged men in Lycra, Carnoustie has sat in blissful isolation. Even a scorching summer – the most memorable Opens are played on burnt grass, right? – hasn’t propelled the 147th championship to the forefront of the sporting consciousness. Read more Share via Email “I think that’s really coming to light now, for sure,” Rose said. “The American boys are playing really, really good golf. I think the European Ryder Cup team, if you want to compare the two, is looking incredibly strong. I think we have a great chance in September, but we are not winning the right events. We are not winning the big events, and that is key.“I’m not really sure why; obviously Rory, myself, Sergio, there’s a bunch of players, Tommy, have been knocking on the door of major championships in the last few years, but it’s definitely been pretty one-sided and the Americans are dominating. So it would be lovely to turn that around next week.”Rose, however, shrugged off his status as the Scottish Open favourite. “Just because you’re a top-ranked player doesn’t mean you start this tournament with any advantage,” he insisted. “Maybe in tennis you do start with an advantage and you get thrown against the weakest seeds in the early rounds and you can build your way into a tournament. In golf, you tee off the same as everybody else and you’ve got to build a new body of work.”It feels like the sport itself will start from scratch in a week’s time. 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