With the conclusion of the British championship, the major golfing season has ended. For years, the final major, the PGA, was played in August—usually in the burdensome heat, even if the venue was somewhere north such as Brookline or Oak Hill.
Sunday at Royal St. Georges in Sandwich, England, the weather seemed to be akin to what you might expect at Hilton Head in the spring, but it was something of a heatwave over there.
When it is truly hot in July in the United Kingdom, especially in the Southern latitudes, it can be uncomfortable. The hottest thing about Sandwich and its environs on Sunday was the Open champion, Collin Morikawa. His measured, compact swing and confident mental acuity brought about telling momentum as the final round progressed.
Nothing like a grateful champion. Search out his background and you find that modesty keeps extravagance at arms-length, humility trumps arrogance and that gratefulness ameliorates and stares down encroaching ego.
Nobody is perfect. Sports heroes, like the tides, come and go. There are no guarantees, but those with the basics, a well-grounded foundation and an appreciation for core values and an engrossing work ethic have considerable advantage over the rest. This is assuming that talent is there which is a given with Morikawa. What would we be saying about Johnny Manziel and Ryan Leaf today if they were imbued with the aforementioned intangibles?
Morikawa’s family has a successful laundry business in Los Angeles and they still run the business. They are not anxious to resort to retirement with their son’s success.
Collin enrolled at California Berkley with an intent to be admitted into the Haas School of Business, not to simply stay eligible to compete in golf until he could make it on the professional tour. He wanted to challenge himself academically. He has accomplished that mission.
During the final round Sunday, it was interesting to hear the announcers refer to the Spitfires and World War II. The German Luftwaffe flew over Royal St. Georges on frequent bombing runs to London during the war.
One thinks about the turmoil in the world today and the fact that the low Amateur for the championship was Matthias Schmid, a young German who plays golf at the University of Louisville. If the world got along as well as the international Open contestants, we wouldn’t have to worry about Armageddon.
Over the years, it has always been interesting to take note of the nationalities who gather to compete in the Open championship. They don’t play much golf in Russia and nobody from China has been able to become established. If a player from either of these two nations were to qualify, however, both officials and fans would welcome him generously. Could we organize the Open roster to replace the United Nations?
When Bill Rogers won the Open at Sandwich in 1981, his agent was the legendary Mark McCormack who had him literally playing all over the world. Rogers made many stops in lands, which were part of the old British Empire. “They felt like the Open championship was theirs. and I was overwhelmed everywhere I went. It was a wonderful experience,” Rogers said.
As the sun was setting late Sunday, the hierarchy of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, which runs the championship, more than likely was enjoying a single malt and planning for next year’s tournament when the championship returns to St. Andrews and the Old Course.
That will be the 150th Open championship, which will, assuming no COVID complications, make it a milestone event. Rooms will be impossible to come by and a record attendance will likely come about.
The “Auld Grey Toon” that is St. Andrews will resonate with the international community. The town will be overrun with shoppers, tourists and golf aficionados. Rooms already have been sold out for some time. And, at inflated rates. You can find dinner reservations next to the needle in the haystack.
The Open championship is always a favored event throughout the United Kingdom, but when it returns to St. Andrews, its widespread appeal is stratospheric.