JUST ahead of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and many of the world’s top golfers have fronted the media and had their say on various topics.
The trick is not to say something stupid that will come back to haunt you come Sunday afternoon – whether you’re already at home with your feet up after missing the cut, or coming down the stretch with a big show of winning.
Here’s a selection of quotes from some of the top contenders, including poor old Jason Day’s continued image problem with slow play, Henrik Stenson’s threat to jump out of a plane with the Claret Jug should he successfully defend his title, and some hearfelt golf club love from the last player to win at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington.
Jason Day “doesn’t care” about his slow play reputation: The only reason why I think a lot of people think I’m slow is that when I was playing well, I was in a lot of groups on Sundays…To be honest, I don’t really care what people say. I need to do what I need to do to win a golf tournament.
Henrik Stenson threatens the Claret Jug with the ride of its life: I’ve made an official promise that if I ever win the Claret Jug again, I’m going skydiving with it. And I don’t know which is going to be harder, winning the Claret Jug again or going skydiving afterwards because that thought scares me a little bit. It won’t stop me from trying to win it, though.
Padraig Harrington on a five wood affair cemented at the 2008 Open: Fairytale stuff to think it should go that way, but it did in 2008 for me. And that 5-wood on 17 is the shot I’ll always be remembered for. I will say my old coach at the time Bob Torrance used to say, it’s easy to hit a good shot when you’re feeling great. It’s difficult to hit an average shot when you’re feeling bad. I was feeling great going down that 17th hole. It was my favourite club. It was a shot I love. I hit a shot in those circumstances, I was on top of the world when I was going to hit it. If I hit a few bad shots coming into that hole and had a two-shot lead, yeah, I’d lay up. Right now if I had a two-shot lead standing on the 17th, I’d tell you I’d hit 6-iron down there and chip it on, and take my chances that Greg doesn’t eagle the hole. But at the time in 2008, favourite club, favourite shot, let’s hit it. Let’s win The Open here and now, and I got to enjoy it walking down 18.
Tommy Fleetwood talks about his first time: ’98 was my first Open I went to watch. And my first memory was just Justin Leonard who was on the cover of the book. I remember Tiger Woods walking past me. That was the first time I’d ever seen Tiger Woods, and the aura around him at the time. Apart from that, don’t remember much about that, apart from I didn’t get many autographs. I spent the time walking and faking them in my little book.
Rory McIlroy on blowing out to 20-1 odds to win: Good time to back me, I think. 20 to 1? I mean, look, if I was a betting company and I saw my form over the past few weeks, you would say, yeah, that’s probably a fair enough price.
Justin Rose on how impressed his kids are that his hole-out at Birkdale in 1998 became a Lego scene: When your final shot is made into a Lego scene, as it was, by somebody very creative, that was the moment when you can show your children, my kids are 5 and 8 and my nephew is 3. You see them watch it and see them now impressed, and now it’s a Lego scene, that’s how you know it was a cool achievement.
Dustin Johnson on how much harder golf is than tennis: “The talent level is so good from 1 to 50 in the world that it’s hard to be that dominant,” he said. “If you look at tennis, the top 50th guy in the world is probably not going to win a major championship, whereas a guy here in the top 50 has a really good shot. It’s just different. It’s a different sport. It’s different levels of talent from 1 to 50.”