A look ahead to the 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's, a venue that will be hosting the event for the 14th time.
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Through the gates, and just in on the right, with all England were a
golf course, this would be the golf course, this would be the
first tee. And, the 18th green. 13 times the great and the good have
strode out from this quirky corner, It can show its fear at the very
ferst or the very last. I reminder of the enduring truth of sport.
It's not how you start, but how you Endings, and beginnings. This
golfing year, the Open returns to Hello, we are all set for more
tales of the unexpected here at a breezy Royal St George Georges and
the 14th Open Championship. This orn corner of Kent has produced
cracking stories each time it has hosted the world's best golfers.
They don't come much better than the most talked about man in the
game, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy. He hasn't yet laid hands
on the famous Claret Jug, he is the clear favourite after his runnaway
victory at the US Open last month. The creation of Rory McIlroy, Major
champion, is a story often told. The youngster with magic in his
hands. His life, it seemed, was all preparation for the victory. How do
you prepare for all that comes with I didn't expect it to be as hectic
as it was, but you know, I think always, when you do something you
sort of feel like, it's not as big a deal as everyone is making out.
It's nice. It's great to have that support. Have you had to become
harder - You have to. My life has definitely changed in the last
three weeks. And, I, yeah, I just have to... I just have to deal with
everything that goes on, you know, outside the ropes. When I'm inside
the ropes and on the golf course, I try and play the best golf that I
can. The demands on my time now, outside the golf course, are - it
will become much harder to still, you know, do or be the same person
that I was, you know, before I won the US Open. It's just - it's just
something I'm going to have deal with. I wanted to be a Major
champion. To gain a Major championship if you have to live
your life out in the public eye, you know, it's not a bad tradoff to
have. How did it come to this? Has there been a greater turnaround in
sport from collapse in a springtime. I don't think anyone...
dominating the world at the US Open? Mentally, I changed a lot on
the golf course. I learnt a lot from that final day at Augustine.
COMMENTATOR: My goodness me. combination of the Masters and the
Open last year at St Andrews and getting into contention at the PGA.
Learning something different each time from those events, it took me
a little bit of time to put all the pieces together. You know, when I
was able to do that, you know, I won the US Open. I don't feel as if
I've changed that month. -- much, mentally on the golf course I feel
I'm better. Winning one Major was never enough, you I wanted more. I
have one my first Major, let's win my second, let's win a career Grand
Slam. When I do that, let's do it again. Do you find the hype
strange? I have won three times in my career. I want to win more than
that. The way I con at -- won at Congressional, that is why the hype
has been so much. But, you know, I don't know, I don't know what way -
I think golf golf, you know, the golfing public in general are
looking for that next player to come up and, sort of, dominate.
Whether that is me, you know, we don't know yet. Hopefully, it is.
If it's someone else, you know, that's great. And, this is our home
for the next four days with a spot over looking the practice putt
green and the 1st tee. How comfortable do you think Rory is?
What expectation is he strongholding this week, Ken?
think he will be, obviously, nervous. He will be very confident.
He couldn't be more confident coming to this championship.
Winning the US Open. Played marvellous golf there. He has had a
practice rounds. Winning Majors, if you have done it you know you can
do it again. With Tiger out golf seems to need a new hero to focus
on. He has been menged mentioned in the same bracket as Tiger, that is
an awful lot to have on young shoulders, isn't it? When you talk
about jack Nicholson and Tiger Woods you are talking of the
Premier League, he is not there yet. He is a naturally gifted player. He
reminds me of Sandy Lyle. It comes to him easily. Pressure doesn't
seem to get to him. He has that ability. Not Tiger Woods yet. He
has the ability to be a great player, no doubt about it. What did
you make of the way he responded to Augustine at Congressional? Thats
with a terrific effort. Augustine could have really knocked the
wheels off his motorbike, as it were, he came fighting back. It was
exceptional, I thought. To win by eight shots. Beautiful golf. It
didn't seem to affect him. To be a great golfer you have to go with
the rough and smooth. That proved a lot to him, that is for certain
that he can do that. No first time Major winner has come back and won
the next one on the calendar since the Second World War. It is a tough
ask for Rory McIlroy. Northern Ireland has two Major winners in
the last 12 months. It is an extraordinary feat. What about
England, no Major winners for the host nation since Nick Faldo in
1996, surely, with five Englishman in the higher levels of the table
there has got to be a better chance. This to be champion. There you go.
England expects every man to do his duty. Thus spoke Lord Nelson at
Trafalgar. Nick Faldo was the last to claim the claret in 1992. With
the top two players in the world and four in the top 16 should
England expect a victory in the battle to slay St Georges?
there been such a good a feeling about English golf? Certainly not.
We have a number of people, myself, Lee, Ian and Paul Casey and Justin.
The list goes on and on. So, you know, hopefully we can breakthrough.
How fedup are you with the questions about when, with regards
to Majors and when with regards to English winners of this great
tournament? Well, you know, not really fedup. You can soon stop
them by winning this week, can't you. A number of players can
capable of pulling of a victory. I don't need to Biophilia the names.
You know who they are. It's a wide open tournament this week. No
particular favourite, I would say. It's going to be the usual suspects
of which England has quite a number in there who can win the claret and
lift the Claret Jug. Golf is an individual game. You see guys Luke
who I have grown up playing amateur golf with. I can see what he has
done to get where he has got. That is through hard work, determination,
there is no reason why other players can't follow that same line.
So many guys at the top of the world rankings which have done an
incredible job over the last 18 months. It would be fitting for one
of the guys to come through this week. It would be great to have an
English winner. Ins you have been playing golf there can't be so many
weeks going into an Open where there are so many contenders from a
home-grown perspective? Why not. I have finished top three in in five
of the last seven. That ought to win you a Major sooner or later.
Luke is coming in off the win. Westy playing well. This could be a
year. I like the English chances, for sure. It wasn't that long ago
there were one or two guys in the top 100 representing England in the
world rankings. And, you know, now it's getting frustrating if it's
two or three in the top ten. I don't even know how many we have in
the top 100. It's a lot. That's brilliant. It really. Has been a
Former Ryder Cup captain Mark James is with me. Do we make enough of
the world ranking of Donald and Westwood. Is there too much
emphasis these days on Majors? times, yes. When a guy gets to
world number one you shouldn't ask questions questions of whether he
is worth it. The fact that Donald and Westwood are one and two they
have played a huge amount of high quality golf. If you look back over
13 years, only a handful of people have been world No 16789 there have
been 30 or 40 Major winners. there anything missing from his
game, is there a case of luck? about luck. The right starting time.
A few putts go in. No-one else gets hot. You can get lucky in Majors
and very unlucky. He has been so unlucky. Luck Donald, the most
dominant player across the year. How is his game cute suited to this
course in particular? I don't know if it gets windy, I don't know how
low he can hit or whether he shapes it that well. Earlier in the year
he was down greens and regulation in the States, he moved up into the
top 50. That means the last couple of months he has been playing very,
very good golf. That will hold him in good stead here. If it is to be
a an English winner, which one? number of players from England who
could win. Obviously, Donald Westwood, cream at the moment. You
have Poulter, Casey. They are high quality. And, Justin Rose. He has
been hitting the ball well this year. Who knows. Thank you. It
doesn't get much more English than Royal St Georges, does it? This
course in 184 was the first upon which the Open was staged outside
Scotland. It really is an area that is totally fascinating in a
historical sense. We have been St George's itself has its place in
Open Championship history. It was the first course in England to host
the Open Championship. Before that had been Prestwick, St Andrews,
Muirfield came in 1892. It moved south to St George's in 1894. You
can great a close up look at the white cliffs at Dover here. They
are being washed away and eroded all the time. Ian Fleming had a
house down here. He was a member of Royal Saint Georges. The reason
that James Bond is supposed to be called 007 because Ian Fleming
liked to go up to cant Canterbury We talk about this corner of
England being a gateway to the country. Down there is a Roman fort,
where the Roman invasion in 14AD began. -- 43AD began. From the
ancient to the modern, beside the fort is a modern Castle of
invention that's the Pfizer factory, it was here they developed viagra.
I have no idea what that is but I am told it's very useful.
The Open championship adds another chapter to the long and varied
history of this corner of England and at the heart of it all the most
English of courses, Royal St George's.
One man who loved this event was Alex Hay who for 26 years sat
alongside Peter Alliss in our commentary box. Alex sadly passed
away this week and we will all miss him, but none more so than his
friend and colleague behind the microphone.
I knew Alex for more years than I care to remember. I saw him through
the phase of when he was a golf professional, I saw him arriving
when he was a club professional. He was a good companion, amusing,
entertaining, could have a temper at times but I loved him dearly and
shall miss him. But, of course, he will be mostly remembered for his
work in the commentary box with phrases like this:.
One could almost say he will need history iron now.
-- his foretree his -- his tree iron now.
There's never a day goes by for him that something wonderful doesn't
happen. What a wonderful shot that is. It
gets better and better. It can't possibly, it can! We are a
privileged couple to get to come He had the most infectious laugh in
the business, didn't he? And our thoughts are with Anne and the two
boys right now. Alex will have within thrilled with the resurgence
of European golf. Rory McIlroy has followed a trail blazed by Graeme
McDowell and Martin Kaymer. There has been a major shift in the world
game. One year ago he was the
unpronounceable outsider, now he is a familiar face, dreaming of a
double. If you can stay calm and patient and enjoy yourself, that's
a big part of Major weeks. There was mentally that belief in
yourself that helped me a lot and I am sure when I am in that position
again to win a major I know that I have done it before
and just have that belief that it People say when are you going to
win a first Major? Then the next question when are you going to win
your second? It's horrible to say a Major championship is a burden. Six
or eight months afterwards, I loved every second and played very well.
It was more as a defence of the title got near that the three or
four months leading up to that everyone wanted to talk about 2010
and I wanted to kick on with 2011. I don't put too much pressure on
myself, I just kept playing my game the way I have been playing the
whole week. There's nothing else you can say
I think I have learned about myself under pressure situations and
hopefully this week just get the game right and this golf course be
quite patient. That's what it's all about here, to grind it out, to
fight and to wait for your chance. It's not about beauty golf, it's
about scoring well. Preparation. Being prepared for anything.
Realising it's going to be a big, long tough weekend ahead, really
grinding tough golf and you have to be really mentally prepared to be
patient and be mentally prepared for a real test of golf. It does
help if you have done something before to remind yourself you have
done it, it's possible to do it again. You can get a good deal of
confidence out of that. Are there sometimes you sit there and you put
your feet up and you think I have won the claret Claret Jug? A lot of
times, you think wow, it was quite good. It was unbelievable spaoerps
and I would -- experience and I would love to be known as Open
champion again. Whoever does walk away with the Claret Jug will have
to conquer the most sourtly course on the rota. It has a reputation as
one of the most hazardous courses of them all. Ken Brown can tell us
what awaits them. Royal St George's is in perfect
condition. The players are going to love it. There's more spin than
usual so you have half a chance of playing shots out, but if you go
wide you are in the thick stuff. A real feature of the golf course
this week are these undulating fairways. Bunkers peppered around
the course, with the lovely golden sand. Look wonderful but tough to
get out of. The greens, well, they're velvet. A lovely carpet of
green grass, just about holding enough. A good shot on the fairway
you will be able to spin the balls. This week it's all about the breeze.
If the breeze is about, Royal St George's is a tiger. This week the
course is set up perfectly for the Open championship. If the sunshines
there will be good numbers, but if it doesn't it will be a brute. It
may have been an American who tamed the brute the last time. The last
five Majors have been won by non- Americans so a golfing superpower
in decline? There are 52US players on the field this week who would
refute that, the most high profile I have been around a long time. I
don't feel old but I have been around a long time. I have enjoyed
playing and competing and I feel like right now I have been able to
get my game at a level I feel as is high as it's been even though my
results have not been there. Wonderful distance control again.
love to compete and always have. It gives me an opportunity to play and
compete against the best players and try to win championships that I
have dreamt about as a kid and that fire never goes away. I will be
playing just about every week all the way through the end of
September, gives me an opportunity to get some of my best golf out and
an opportunity to play the way I know I have been playing, I just
haven't gotten the scores in the last year or so but I think it's
about to turn. Golf has become a global sport. We need good young
players and good young global players to promote the sport on an
international basis. Fowler at the 17th and on and on and on. That's
ridiculous. I feel like American golf is in good shape. We have a
lot of good young talented players, as well as older established
players who have done it year after year. I feel like American golf is
fine and our players will end up winning some tournaments but it's
important that we have good young players like Rory McIlroy. We need
these guys to step up and play. In the US we have guys like Ricky
Fowler that are coming on, a kid in college. Dustin Johnson has
something that you can't acquire, which is clubhead speed. Players
like that give international golf a strong flavour.
Jake Townsend is a star-spangled kind of guy, you will be on Radio
Five Live this week. Is the power base diminishing now, is this a
blip or major shift? There's been cycles, you have Seve, Ian Woosnam,
they were the power base. It's shifted to the Americans in the 90s
and early 2000s. It's gone back to this side of the Atlantic and it's
ready for Westwood to win, Donald to win his first and certainly you
would expect McIlroy to win a bunch of them. This is a global game now.
Is there anything that's inhibiting US golf, maybe even Tiger's
absence? Tiger has created a vacuum nobody's rushed to fill. Fowler is
the guy the Americans want to come in. I think he is a way off yet.
Glover has won the Open but hasn't contended in other Majors. Those
are the guys probably going to do it but they're going to have to
contend before they win. Thank you very much. Some of the the younger
mans you ventioned haven't won a Major yet but they're winning fans
with offcourse and ticks. This # Smash, bang, you got to hit the
ball far and the crowd goes # I want my birdies all day long,
but the bogeys go hey # You want to play with the pros
# You got to hit it in the hole now # You want to reach the top
# You got to give it all you got Honestly, what do you make of that?
Tputsy? -- gutsy? Not sure what hurt more, my eyes or ears having
to listen to that. Not my kind of music. We have just about covered
all the main contenders in our preview. What knows maybe another
300-1 shot could do a Ben Curtis on us. Let's look at how things will
transpire tomorrow. They'll be teeing off from 6.30am and these
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 65 seconds
All sorts of interactive options available to you via the red button.
If you can't be with us for all that time, then the BBC website and
5 Live will have full coverage of all the latest news. The great Seve
Ballesteros claimed this Claret Jug three times and got his first taste
of lynx golf here. The R&A have honoured him this week by putting
A look ahead to the 2011 Open, the 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's, a venue that will be hosting the event for the 14th time. English chances rest with Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, and hopes are high that one of them could become the first English winner on home soil since Tony Jacklin triumphed at Royal Lytham St Anne's in 1969.
But the bookmakers' favourite is 22-year-old Rory McIlroy, who sensationally won the US Open last month. The Northern Irishman stormed to victory to claim his first major title, breaking a host of records along the way.
Also in the show is a guide to Royal St George's, a course that is set to provide a stern test to the world's best players due to its unusual layout and quirky features.