Former European Tour Executive Director Ken Schofield is in England for the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. This year marks his 40th Open Championship and the first Open that he ever attended was the 1972 Open Championship at Murifield and the only one he has missed since that year was the 1973 Open Championship when Tom Weiskopf won.
It was an amazing accomplishment when Englishman Tony Jacklin won the Open Championship in England. Tom Abbott did a great interview with him earlier this week and he has enjoyed seeing his career being given the regard and respect that it deserves this week.
1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie is very similar to Steve Stricker in how he has been able to resurrect his game over the past couple of years. Lawrie struggled for a while after winning at Carnoustie and he was inspired by his two sons who were starting to beat him on the golf course. Lawrie wanted to show his sons that he could compete at the highest level and he has definitely been able to do that.
Lee Westwood started with a 73 and Schofield is more than a bit surprised because he would have thought that Westwood had the best chance of any European to win this week. Westwood is searching for a lot of things and he is under a great deal of pressure to win his first Major. The fact that The Open Championship is in England this week applies more pressure and it is possible that Westwood is succumbing to that pressure.
He is very hopeful that the recent success of Royal Portrush in hosting The Irish Open will ultimately lead to an Open Championship in the future. While he does not think it is wise to pencil in a date in the near future, he hopes that the R&A will not write off Royal Portrush as a future Open Championship site.
The Madrid Masters was cancelled recently due to a lack of a sponsor in Spain and while Schofield is disappointed at that development, he feels very fortunate that George O’Grady has been able to significantly expand the reach of the European Tour around the world. Years ago, the European Tour decided to make its identity based on the nationalities of its players and not on the borders of the continent of Europe. As the European Tour has become more global in its membership, it has also become more global in its tournaments and as the economies of several European nations have struggled, the European Tour has been helped significantly by nations whose economies are still strong.