The British Open

Floyd Landis may be returning to America after winning the Tour de France, but the Omnivore remains in Europe this week to take a belated look at the British Open.

Launched with eight players in 1860, the Open is steeped in golf history like no other major tournament. What other championship has run through two trophies? That’s right. Before the Claret Jug trophy was introduced in 1873, tournament champions won the right to wear the “Challenge Belt.”

Here’s an overview of Royal Liverpool’s Holylake course. Built in 1869 on the racecourse of the Liverpool Hunt Club, the seaside course hosted horse races as well as golfers in its first seven years.

It’s been 40 years since the Open has made its way back to the links-style course. The delay had little to do with the whims of fashion or difficulty; instead the 110-year-old course simply didn’t have the room to shoehorn in the corporate tents and media centers required at modern tournaments. So Royal Liverpool purchased a 10-acre parcel adjacent to the club six years ago.

Thanks to their efforts, golfer-cum-guitarist John Daly got a chance to stand on the stage where The Beatles began the mania. Another side effect, no golfer in the Open has played Holylake in tournament conditions. Common wisdom says this favors raw talent. Sunday’s results seem to bear that out. Tiger Woods captured his second Open in a row.

On top of the Claret Jug, Woods will likely also win the shot of the tournament. He holed a 200-yard approach shot on the par-four 14th. The eagle sent him into the lead in the second day.

The PGA Tour site has a good slide show. Highlights include Mikko Ilonen’s baby blue pants and an answer to how cameramen get those smooth shots following players walking towards the green.

Like many sports events, the run-up to the tournament often makes for the best spectacle. Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson, 75, borrowed from Shakespeare to take modern players to task for a lack of ambition. “I think, as Henry IV said, ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’. Not everybody wants the crown,” Thomson told the Associated Press.

In addition to the bard, England offered a few novel ways to part with money. The pairing of Tiger Woods with Nick Faldo, who criticized Woods stroke as a golf analyst last year, had the British betting company William Hill offering 100 to 1 odds that the two would come to blows by the end of their round. Alas, they shook hands on the practice tee, blowing yet another bet.

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