1. A dark horse has won the last two Opens. If another wins in 2005, who will it be?
The very talented Australian Geoff Ogilvy. Long hitter, a little more patient with himself after Tuscon win. His caddie 'Squirrel', Mark James' former caddie, should be a real asset at 'The Home of Golf'.
While I don't think it is going to happen and it would not be a wild stretch given his T5 and T3 in the last two majors Australian Mark Hensby could provide an upset. He did not drive it that well in the U.S. Open and finished third. Great belief in his own ability and I would put him in the mould of a David Graham who did happen to win two Major Championships.
2. What are Tigers chances to repeat his dominant performance at St. Andrews from 2000?
I'd rate Tiger's chances as very good! Power, creativeness, desire, love of the history at St. Andrews, everything!
While Tiger is the favorite to win this year by virtue of being the world No.1 I doubt he will show the dominance he did in 2000. The reason being he is still prone to the errant tee shot. In 2000 he managed to avoid the many pot bunkers that lurk off the tee. When Tiger drives it well, he is so strong through the rest of the bag everybody is forced to play catch up. If he is to stray this year off the tee and find a few pot bunkers this year they will be an instant bogey at best and he will become the chaser.
3. What aspect of a players game is most important at St. Andrews?
There is no easy answer. Power helps! Greens are huge so putting is important! Wind game might be needed! Previous experience at The Old Course is useful. Staying focused no matter what happens. There is a reason the course is so highly respected, you need a little of everything.
Flair is so important at St. Andrews. Conditions change so quickly that a hole all of sudden plays downwind and you can attack. A severe cross wind challenges the player to be creative. St. Andrews is not for the weak of heart as its roll of Champions proves.
4. How hard is it to get up and down out of the road hole bunker?
If you get unlucky with the lie of the ball you could be delighted just getting out in ANY direction! It will be interesting to see how the rebuilt bunker plays.
The advent of the lob wedge has taken a lot of the fear of the Road hole bunker away. Gone are the Nakijima days when players couldn't find a way out of it. Hell bunker now presents the bigger challenge.
5. How does St. Andrews rank with the other top courses in the Open rotation?
Awesome. Unique course design and history!
St. Andrews by virtue of being the home of Golf will always be No. 1 on the British Open rotation. A chance for the young and brave to walk the same fairways as have all the game's greats.
6. What is your most memorable Open Championship moment?
1974 Open at Royal Lytham. Playing in the last group with Gary Player, I parred the last four holes (15 and 17 are very tough par 4s) to finish second, one shot ahead of Jack Nicklaus. Gary was leading by seven with four to play so even though he was in the hay at 17 and up against the clubhouse at 18 he was always going to win. Finishing ahead of Jack in The Open Championship was always an achievement!
1978 had the 'potential' to be the most memorable. In the last group again, this time with Tom Watson, we were tied for the lead. I shot 38 on the incoming 9 with 20 putts!! Finished alone in sixth place, one behind a 4-way tie for second, three behind Champion Golfer Jack Nicklaus! Definitely my best chance to win. Still bugs me to this day. But not in a bad way!
Strangely enough my best British Open moment did not involve my own participation. I missed qualifying in the 1982 British Open at Troon. I went to the range to see what was happening and in order hitting balls next to each other were Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, David Graham, Miller, Ballesteros, Norman, Trevino and Tom Weiskopf. For a budding 22 year old professional there was no better motivation to continue the quest.