ONE OF England’s all-time greatest golfers, Sir Nick Faldo, has joined in the long-running debate in his usual direct and somewhat sarcastic style over what to call one of the world’s principal golf tournaments.
As the 146th playing for the famous Claret Jug begins next Thursday (20th) the argument as whether it should be called the British Open, the Open Championship or simply the Open rages on. Sir Nick and the USA’s Johnny Miller, two of golf’s doyens, allowed their own opinions out in ‘the open’ during a recent interview on the NBC/Golf Channel.
One of the reporters asked Miller if he refers to the tournament as “the Open Championship.” As is par for the course, Nick Faldo couldn’t resist joining in.
“The Open Championship is incorrect. It’s now the Open,” Faldo said, explaining that the tournament’s recent re-branding as simply the Open. “You see? It’s gone from the British Open, the Open Championship, now it’s the Open.”
Miller quickly interjected, admitting he’s still confused by it all, but that it was always known as the British Open during his playing days and that’s what he still calls it now he’s one of the most recognisable commentators on American television.
“I have trouble with it,” Miller said. “I screwed up one time last year, if you call it a screw-up, which is pretty good in four days.”
Not for the first time, Sir Nick had the final word. “In another five years it will be just called ‘The.'”
Miller tips Japanese Open breakthrough
Ahead of whatever the forthcoming tournament is to be known as, one of its previous winners, Johnny Miller has picked Hideki Matsuyama as the early favourite to win at Royal Birkdale and become Japan’s first major winner.
Miller, who won the title at the same Merseyside course in 1976, said that picking a champion was even tougher than usual in view of the worrying form of several of the sport’s biggest names as they prepare for the four days of golf.
“The real hot shots, like Dustin Johnson and Rory (McIlroy) and Jason Day… they’re not on the top of their game right now,” Miller said, also adding Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas to that list.
“So I don’t know what to expect, because majors are a whole different animal but Hideki, I think he’s the best player right now. Tournament in and tournament out his bad shots are really good, which is what you need at Birkdale. And I think that he’s ready to win.”
Miller reflected on his own success 41 years ago. “I think Royal Birkdale is one of my favourite courses, especially my favourite links, because we deem it a little fairer, the fairways are a little flatter but the sand dunes are fantastic and very demanding. I’m excited to go back there and sort of see if my memory resurrects. I believe it’s an accuracy course. The reason why I won the Open in ’76 is my caddie literally made me hit a one-iron. I hit a one-iron 12 out of the 14 tee shots.”