Watching The Open with the naked eye is a strange experience. The rewards are fleeting, when the walking between holes occupies far more time than the actual game. Golf is a sport made for television. Yet, to see a professional hit a ball into the unimaginable distance is an experience all in itself.
By the late Seventies the Ryder Cup had become a joke. The Americans so dominated the event that it was no longer of interest as a sporting contest. When Jack Nicklaus suggested that it be broadened to European team instead of a Great Britain and Ireland side, there was one golfer everyone eagerly awaited to see take on the Americans.
In almost every international tournament, Britons baying for success end up disappointed, often before the event is even half way through. As a nation, we stand these people - who regularly end up in the newspaper for one nightclub misdemeanour or another, one extramarital trifling or another, or the occasional on-pitch inappropriate remark - on pedestals and eulogise them as pillars of our nation.
What happened to the genteel sport of golf? "The Americans started losing," then European Captain Bernard Gallacher would comment. In the Nineteen Nineties the Ryder Cup competition grew teeth and bit down hard on a rivalry which had once been friendly. Twice on American soil the Europeans were seen not so much as the competition but as the enemy...