The Ailsa Course at Turnberry is without doubt the most scenic on the Open rota. Laid out alongside the Firth of Clyde, affording splendid views of the Mull of Kintyre and Ailsa Craig, the mysterious volcanic island that lends an almost surreal backdrop to many of the seaside holes, the course is often referred to as Scotland’s Pebble Beach because of its natural, craggy beauty.
It’s been 15 years since the Open was staged on the Ailsa, but that had nothing to do with the course itself. The problem was logistical; getting there was a fag. You simply can’t hold the world’s biggest golf tournament and expect over 150,000 spectators to travel down country lanes to get there. The roads have been improved and a direct rail link will be in operation over Open week. Turnberry is back – and so is Tiger.
After missing out on Birkdale last year through injury, the world’s number one must be relishing his return to links golf. Woods has repeatedly talked about his love of the unique challenges that only links golf can provide, but at Tunberry he’ll be charting very unfamiliar territory.
Neither Tiger nor defending champion Padraig Harrington, as well as many other leading players, have played competitively at Turnberry before, which only adds to the excitement for this summer’s Open. In its three previous Open hostings, the best players of the day have risen up the leaderboard with victories for Tom Watson, in the famous Duel in the Sun in 1977 against Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman in 1986 and Nick Price in ’94. With the cream always rising to the top at Turnberry, Tiger must be licking his lips.
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