Larry Canning: An Open Championship to truly savour

Larry CanningLARRY CANNING looks at the coming of age of a young, humble, true world golfing superstar, a gutted Rory McIlroy… and a bit of gratuitous spitting from Team USA.



The 150th episode of what has become known as “The Open” could easily have been the most exciting ending in its long history.

No, not because there was a play-off or that it was won by Tiger Woods on two broken legs, but because it was won by an Aussie. The mullet wearing, Queensland State of Origin supporting typically understated Aussie showed the world’s best he was in fact, one of the world’s best. And one of the most grounded and REAL young superstar athletes in professional sport.

More importantly, he displayed guts and courage unmatched by all including four-time major winner Rory McIlroy. It’s hard to imagine anyone else, barring maybe Jack Nicklaus or Tiger, displaying that level control over their emotions to the point where they can perform at their very best right when it’s needed in the worlds biggest championship.

Sadly, with every winner there is usually a loser and sadly, that role was filled by Rory McIlroy. From his first tee shot it was clear he was not only carrying his own hopes of breaking out of his eight year majorless drought but the hopes of hundreds of thousands of vocal supporters. For all intents and purposes it looked like he wasn’t going to disappoint his followers until Cam Smith changed the script in the space of five holes. Rory couldn’t keep up with Smith as the Aussie played the best last nine in the history of The Open to claim his first major and I’m absolutely sure, not his last.

The Irishman was visibly gutted as he left the final green and one must ponder how he will recover from yet another near miss; or in his words “one that slipped through his fingers”. They say you learn from your losses? In my opinion all you learn is how hard it is to win. Hopefully the wall being built between himself and his fifth major can be busted down ASAP.

I think we’d be mad not to keep a very close eyeball on Cameron Young. This bloke has rocketed into major contention at the same speed he swings his driver! It wasn’t even two years ago when the burly American was prequalifying to get a start on the Korn Ferry Tour. In his short career with the big guys on the PGA Tour he has had six top threes including runner up at the Open and third in the PGA Championship. I’ve seen enough action movies to know that going to school in the Bronx, as Young did, is going to make you one tough kid. One look at Cameron and I’d strongly suggest you don’t mess with him.

A couple of side notes, and I’m going apologise in advance for constantly bringing this up…but its becoming more and more obvious that the R&A might need to create a rule penalising Americans who choose to spit on the most hallowed piece of golfing history in the world. The Grand Old Lady deserves a bloody lot more respect than suffering the likes of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Keopka launching disgusting globules of phlegm all over her immaculate and revered tees and fairways.

Despite giving “The shark” the raw prawn from the celebrity four hole hit and Champion’s dinner in an attempt to shove LIV Golf under the grass clippings for this most important week of golf; it still remained topical with the media, the respective administrations and finally the most important figure in golf for the past 30 years, Tiger Woods. The big guy finally came out with his strong stance on the renegades with quotes in his press conference like –  

“I disagree with [players going to LIV],” said Woods. “I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back[s] on what has allowed them to get to this position.”

“I just don’t see how that move is positive in the long term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organisation doesn’t get world-ranking points and the major championships change their criteria for entering the events. It would be sad to see some of these young kids never get a chance to experience it and experience what we’ve got a chance to experience and walk these hallowed grounds and play in these championships.”

It would clearly be a sad state of affairs if the LIV Golf League Players aren’t awarded World Ranking points and therefore miss out on playing Majors and with the likes of Jay Monahan (PGA Tour), Mike Whan (USGA), Seth Waugh (PGA of America), Martin Slumbers (R&A), Keith Pelley (DP World Tour) and Will Jones (Augusta National) are all on that board, its all but a given LIV events will be punted.

Even Cam Smith in his moment of euphoria in the post round presser said this when asked about rumours regarding the potential of him jumping ship – “I just won the British Open and you’re asking me that! I think that’s pretty not that good.”

He was pushed again to respond with a yes or no and  said – “My team deal with everything, I’m here just to win golf tournaments.”

Of course this triggered analysts to take it as an obvious non-denial.

Before they have Cam now joining LIV maybe they should recall his response to this question on the eve of last year’s FedEx Cup finals – “What would you do with the 15 million if you win?”  

“I don’t know, I’m pretty set, to be honest,” Smith said. “I’m good. I’m good with what I’ve got. I don’t know what I’d do, to be honest. Maybe some more fishing equipment.”

Given Cam has just won the Open which is estimated to carry about 15 million in endorsements, if he defects to LIV, I’d be more than happy to play my next Friday chicken run at Mt Broughton NUDE.

Oh crap, did I just write that?




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