From the bonny, bonny banks to the home of golf – a journey none made with greater excitement and enthusiasm than Darren Clarke.
Darren arrived in Loch Lomond knowing that only a top five finish would be good enough to get to St.Andrews and the 150th anniversary of golf’s greatest strokeplay event. Even then only one place was available so he had to finish ahead of anybody else in the top five who wasn’t qualified for The Open.
Even though Darren was disappointed not to win the event sponsored by his own sponsors Barclays Capital, the great consolation was that he did win the race to St.Andrews despite intense pressure from France’s Raphael Jacquelin.
Second place behind Italy’s Edoardo Molinari was enough to ensure Darren became part of The Open field along with 11 other ISM players. And there was an added bonus when Darren, who arrived at Loch Lomond on the back of a win in the JP McManus pro-am in Adare, reached St.Andrews. He was paired with his good friend Davis Love 111 for the first two rounds along with Canada’s Mike Weir.
The weather forecast is also in Darren’s favour because if it rains and blows as is expected then there are few better players in the world in those conditions.
It promises to be a great week whatever the weather and it would not surprise me in the least if our wait for a major champion – Ernie wasn’t with us when he won his three – ends on Sunday with us toasting the champion out of the silver claret jug.
Another big pat on the back for making it to St.Andrews goes to Steven Tiley, last year’s Egyptian Open winner, who has shown enormous drive and dedication to establish himself in golf. Although he only turned professional in 2007, this will be his second appearance at The Open having played as an amateur at Troon six years ago.
I wish all our boys the best of luck and look forward to a big celebration on Sunday night in The Jigger, ISM’s home for the week here.