x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Bain recalls 2007 British Open magical moments and gains

The Dubai-based golfer played the links tournament at Carnoustie and says luck can play a big part in scores.

Despite tough weather conditions, Bain enjoyed some good form at the Carnoustie in 2007.
Despite tough weather conditions, Bain enjoyed some good form at the Carnoustie in 2007.

DUBAI // Ross Bain, the Dubai-based Asian Tour golfer, describes his only appearance at the British Open as the most surreal, challenging and wonderful experience of his career.

The Scot believes that this week's event, the 140th time the tournament has been held, will never lose the magic that has surrounded the oldest major.

The best four days of Bain's career came in 2007 at Carnoustie, Scotland, when he made the cut and finished in 45th place, after getting through in qualifying.

Like every other golf fan, Bain will be glued to his television over the next four days as the best players, minus Tiger Woods of course, battle it would at the Royal St George's Club in Sandwich, Kent.

And Bain, 35, expects the memories of his British Open experience, when Padraig Harrington beat Sergio Garcia in a play-off to take the title, to come flooding back this weekend.

"The whole week was great," Bain said. "It's like playing in the [European] Champions League for a footballer.

"When I got to the course on Sunday, which is really early for me, there was nobody about and it was actually quite surreal. The famous greens stands were up and the [British] Open clock was there, but in a funny way it didn't feel like a big tournament.

"Then it crept up on me. As it got closer to Thursday, the crowds got bigger for practice and then it was mayhem. My final practice was with Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy and we got some big numbers for that because those guys are top players."

Bain moved to Dubai at the age of five with his parents yet "grew up wanting to play the British Open".

"Along with the US Masters, that was the tournament every golfer wants to be a part of if they are honest," Bain said. "There is so much tradition, so many great winners, and when it starts on the Thursday [today], it's an incredible experience. Then you know it's a big event. The magic around it will never go away. It is quite something when you hear your name being called out on the first tee."

Bain, who played the third round with 2006 Open runner-up Chris DiMarco, finished six over with scores of 74, 72, 71 and 73 to finish as the highest player from the host country.

"The buzz all the way around the course over the four championship days is something you need to experience for yourself," Bain, who won US$29,820 (Dh109,533) in prize money, said. "I loved it.

"It was great that I played pretty solidly and made the weekend. I finished at six over for the tournament, which wasn't too bad given that we had tricky conditions."

Bain's coach for the week on the east coast of Scotland was Wayne Johnson, who is now the director of instruction at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.

"All I really said to Ross that week was to go out and play his shots and show people how good he was, which he did," Johnson said.

"It was great being there with him for four days. It was a terrific week. I worked with the great swing coach Butch Harmon and to walk inside the ropes with him during practice was fantastic.

"I went to my first [British] Open as a kid in 1969 and it's always an amazing experience. It will never lose that. The Open Championship, as I call it, is so special. There is nothing else like it."

Bain believes the fact the British Open is always played on a links course makes it one of the toughest examinations in the sport.

It is why, according to Bain, so many first-timers, especially Americans, struggle so much on their first visit to a British coastal course.

"Links golf is so different," Bain said. "The ball stops a lot quicker than a lot of guys are used to and the one part of your game which has to be top-notch is chipping. If you can't get up and down from around the green then you're in trouble."

"I am never one to talk about luck, but if there is one major championship where luck plays its part it is the British Open. Get on the wrong side of the draw and it could do you in. Just look at Rory McIlory last year. His second round was played in the rain and he blew up.

"I got the bad side of the draw on Saturday and lost my way on the back nine. I think I dropped three or four shots. It even happened to Tiger Woods in 2002 at Muirfield when he was at the absolute peak of his powers. The weather came in and took apart his game."

For the first time since 1994 - and only the second since the US Masters began in 1934 - none of the four majors are in the possession of an American. Despite boasting four players in the top 10 rankings, the US can expect that sequence to be continued this weekend, according to Bain and Johnson.

"I can see the winner coming from Europe, " Bain said. "I don't think there is an American in the field who can win. I'd like to see Lee Westwood get one at last, although Rory McIlroy is the man to beat, even if I agree that he should have played since the US Open."

Johnson said: "Rory is the man, but Sandwich is a quirky course and that might suit [Phil] Mickelson. But whoever wins will be remembered forever."

 

ncameron@thenational.ae