Darren's Blog

Regular updates on what I have been up to around the world.

Open Focus
13 July 2015

Open Focus Main focus this week, however, centres on a silver, claret jug and my bid to get my hands on it again

It's Open week, my favourite of the season, but the Ryder Cup is never far from my mind.

That's why it was a pleasure to partner up with Henrik Stenson for a practice round at St.Andrews on Sunday and we chatted at length about next year's match against the Americans.

Henrik is one of the best players in the world and hopefully will be one of the leading figures in the European side representing us in Hazeltine.  I was delighted to hear just how determined he is to be there.

The match may be some time away but I've been surprised by how much preparation and detail has to be sorted out even at this early stage.  Team uniforms, golf bags, visits, functions etc.,. it's a never ending list and I'm enjoying every minute.   I want us to be the best prepared we can be so I'm involved with everything.

Main focus this week, however, centres on a silver, claret jug and my bid to get my hands on it again.   One of the benefits of winning The Open is that every time it's played at St Andrews, the R & A host a past champions' dinner so this is my debut.   It will be an honour and wonderful experience to be among so many previous winners.

It will be a busy Tuesday evening because immediately after the dinner I'm being whisked off to join the Association of Golf Writers at their annual bash to accept player of the season honours on behalf of Rory McIlroy.

My thoughts are with my fellow Ulsterman as he sits at home recovering from the football injury which is keeping him away from a course he plays so well.  I'm sure he will be back soon, fitter and stronger than ever.

Rory might not have seen St Andrews in this condition because it is very green and much softer than I have ever known because of the amount of rain it has recently soaked up.  I'm told the first and 18th fairways were basically under water at one stage which is amazing considering how quickly the course drains, but R & A secretary Peter Dawson assures me a bit of wind and sun will soon have it firm and fast again.  The greens haven't suffered however.  They are as good as I've ever known.

I knew pretty much what to expect before I came here because Royal Portrush very kindly cut the practice green down as much as they could to help my preparation.  Many thanks to all concerned.

It's great to be back on the links again and my game is in pretty good shape.  Hopefully I'll find the consistency that's been missing of late.

On a more personal note I'd like to join everybody else at ISM in congratulating one of our player managers, Louis Martin, on reaching his 72nd birthday.   I go back a long way with Louis, but thankfully not all the way back.

I, along with Alison, Tyrone and Conner, would also like to congratulate good friends Matt McAlpine and Victoria McCarter on their wedding last Saturday and wish them all the best for the future.

And even closer to home, it's elder son Tyrone's 17th birthday on August 3 so there has been a bit of chat about 'L' plates and I know what he's been looking at.   I hope he's not building up his hopes too high on that front because the insurance would cost more than the vehicle.

Now it's time for the Old Course again and it promises to be another great week... with everybody keen to see just how Jordan Spieth gets on in his quest for the third leg of a season's grand slam.

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