Golf-The Claret Jug comes with weight of history at St Andrews

By Steve Keating

ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) – The Claret Jug weighs only 5.5 pounds (2.5kg) but when The Open is played on the Old Course at the ‘Home of Golf’, the trophy comes with the added weight of history.

Tiger Woods, who snatched two of his three Open titles at St Andrews, said this windswept stretch of Scottish coastline, not Augusta National, is his favourite venue.

The opportunity to play it again, at the 150th Open Championship, helped accelerate his comeback from a career-threatening car crash that nearly resulted in the 15-times major winner losing his right leg.

“It feels more historic than it normally has,” said Woods. “It is history every time we get a chance to play here.

“It’s hard to believe, it’s been 150 years we’ve played this tournament.

“And it’s incredible, the history behind it, the champions that have won here. It’s hard to believe it’s more historic, but it really is.

“It does feel like that. This does feel like it’s the biggest Open Championship we’ve ever had.”

The Old Course became an 18-hole layout in 1764 and has stood the test of time.

While there have been changes the challenge remains timeless, said Jack Nicklaus, a three-time Open champion with the last two coming at St Andrews where on Tuesday he was made an honorary citizen.

“The game has changed quite a bit but St Andrews hasn’t,” said the 18-time major winner. “Sure, St Andrews has a little bit of length added to it, The Old Course has.

“But the length has been added to try to sort of compromise the golf ball of today. But you’ve still got to play golf.

“You still have those pesky little bunkers out there that grab your ball every time you hit an errant shot.

“Somebody hit it here 60 years ago or 100 years ago and they had the same problem.”

Golfers say they sense that history the moment they arrive in St Andrews, which is hosting The Open for the 30th time.

It is a place where notorious bunkers like “Hell” on the 14th hole or the depression guarding the 18th green known as “The Valley of Sin” have been elevated to national landmarks.

“History. It’s as simple as that. History,” said Spaniard Jon Rahm, summing up the magic of an Open at St Andrews. “I wouldn’t say there’s anything with the golf course itself, which is plenty special.

“It’s just the history of the game and how much it means.

“I’ve heard multiple champions say it.

“You can’t really call yourself a great player unless you win The Open at St Andrews, which is a very selective group to say.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in St Andrews. Editing by Toby Davis)

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