by Jeff Skinner
Nothing says Open Championship golf like a Scottish venue hosting the Open. Visions of St Andrews, links golf, Old Tom Morris, the wind and weather, the passionate fans and the “Champion Golfer of the Year” holding the Claret Jug on the eighteenth green are just some of the sights and memories that make this championship special. However there is one glaring omission that the native Scots have been missing for years; a home grown Scot holding the Jug in a victory celebration. The last Scot to win the Open was Paul Lawrie in 1999 and that Open was remembered more for Frenchmen Jean Van de Velde’s meltdown than it was for Lawrie’s comeback from ten strokes back to win. Since then, Lawrie has managed only two European Tour wins. Before Lawrie it was 1985 and Sandy Lyle that captured the Open Championship and prior to that you have to go back to 1920 and winner George Duncan.
For decades it seems, the hopes of Scots rested on the sloped shoulders of Colin Montgomerie. Monty has had a distinguished career on the European Tour and the Ryder Cup, but he has gone 0-forever in majors. He certainly has contended in many, but always has been a stroke or two short. In the past 20 Open Championships Monty was the highest finishing Scot on eight occasions, including a second to Tiger Woods in 2005. Currently Lawrie is ranked 178th in the world and Monty is at 199, hardly a threat at the Open. The highest ranked Scot is….kudos if you know this one, is Gary Orr. Yes, Gary Orr is the highest ranked Scot at 124. Orr has two minor wins in Europe back in 2000 and sits at 65th place on the European Order of Merit. Where are all the Scots of merit? Who knows, there are only eight Scots in the top 300 World Golf Rankings.
It seems absurd that “The Home of Golf “could field such a weak field of golfers when the nation is an entire country of golfers. Alistair Tate tries to explain the issues with Scotland’s professional golfers in Golf Week. It is true now more than ever that golf is a very international game, but somehow Scotland has been left behind in the explosion of international golf. The country that gave birth to the game has watched their professionals flounder in their major championship for too long. Unfortunately, there seems to be no help in sight.