Hats off to the Brits!
If not for them — the British Isles, Great Britain, the United Kingdom — this week would not be as much fun as it is.
This is my favorite TV viewing week of the year thanks to the British Open, or as the rest of the world calls it, “The Open.”
I’m a morning person, always have been. And because the British Open is five-hours ahead of us, it suits an early-riser. A 6:35 a.m. tee time at “The Open” is 1:35 Galion time.
If I want to watch, it’s often in the middle of the night, or morning.
This week, with more than usual going on in my life, I completely forgot about the British Open.
But thanks to my pup, I caught a portion of the first round before I went to work Thursday.
At 4 a.m. Thursday, my 18-month-old white pitbull decided she needed to go for a walk. I’ve learned that when Miss Beatrix gets in my face and barks at me and does that cute little whining thing, I had better pay attention because she NEEDS to go out. It’s easier to get up and take her to the park than to hunt in the morning for the little present she left me if I ignore her pleas. Plus, there’s the cleanup, and the cost of paper towels, and laundry, and air freshener.
Believe me, a 10-minute walk is the better solution..
Anyway, Beatrix was quickly done with her business, and by 4:30 a.m. she was already blissfully asleep in my bed, snoring and chasing squirrels in her sleep.
I, on the other hand, was wide awake. I could not get back to sleep. I started flipping through TV channels, looking for a “Law and Order” rerun, or a “How I Met Your Mother” rerun, or a rerun of “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”
I found “The Open.”
So I propped a couple pillows under my head, another under my knee and sat back to watch.
Then I decided I was hungry, so I made my way to the kitchen and turned on that TV. But no matter how hard and how deep I searched in my refrigerator, I could not find a s single scone, nor strawberries and cream, nor bangers. I couldn’t even find an English Muffin.
So I threw together some eggs, ham, mushrooms, onions, hatch chili peppers and mushrooms, wrapped that mixture in a couple of warmed tortillas, added a little hot sauce and a glass of orange juice and returned to my bedroom to dine.
That’s how an American watches “The Open.”
This year’s “Open” is at Royal Troon, outside the village of Troon, in Scotland.
It’s a links style course, with nary a tree in sight. There are sand dunes and pot bunkers; there is wispy grass more than a foot high and undulations in the fairways and on the green; there are few natural landmarks on the course, so it’s difficult to figure out exactly where to aim your tee shot; and there is the weather.
At “The Open,” there is always the weather. Often there is rain, combined with wind, and sometimes, when that cold north wind is blowing across the course, you’ll see players in ski hats, gloves and heavy sweaters … all covered up with rain gear.
Ahhh. Golf in the British Isles. It’s on my bucket list.
And that weather is the reason I love watching the British Open.
It sometimes makes pro golfers look bad, silly, flustered, confused.
And that obvious consternation makes Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Phil Michelson, Dustin Johnson and others … just like me.
It’s rare that I can compare myself to a a pro athlete. But this week I can.
I know exactly what they are feeling on that golf course.
I know how hard they are going to have to concentrate in order: to not throw their clubs; to not yell out a favorite four-letter world; to not curse the wind or a bad lie or an impossible putt; to not seek out the lovely lady driving the beer cart every couple of holes so they can get an early start on forgetting about their God-awful round.
For one week, the best golfers in the world are just like me.
On their faces I see the same confused look anyone who has played a round with me sees on my face.
I’ll hear at least one of them utter — or scream — an off-color, four-letter obscenity … just like me.
I’ll see a club flipped angrily in the air, or tossed disgustedly at a caddie; I’ll see an iron or fairway wood, pounded into the turf; or I will witness a mighty and wild swing through the 18-inch high wispy grass most British Open course are known for.
Those are the kind of shenanigans that make pro golfers just like me.
Some of the pros will be secretly longing for extreme weather … just like me. Because in golf , weather is the great equalizer.
So, if you saw me nodding off at the office Thursday or Friday, or in my truck, you know why.
If you saw me vacantly staring off into the air as I walked around uptowne Galion, or Heise Park, it’s because I was up most of the night watching “The Open.” I am not, I repeat: I AM NOT playing Pokeman Go!
As I write this column Thursday morning, here are my favorites. The winner will be one of these four players.
Top choice — Jordan Spieth: He is from Texas, so he enjoys playing in the wind. It’s going to be windy in Scotland. It always is.
Second choice — Jason Day: There is no golfer in the world hotter than Jason Day. Plus he married a girl from Lucas, Ohio.
Third choice — Louis Oosthuizen: He loves playing in Britain and he’s been close the past two years.
Long shot — Hideki Matsuyama: He’s one of the best in the world, he’s steady … and I think it’s time for him to pick up his first major.
I know “The Open” isn’t everyone’s cup of team, but try it with some crumpets, you might like it.
Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. If you have a comment or suggestion or story idea, send an email to [email protected]