Nicola Sturgeon visits St Andrews and talks to the R&A

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, visited The Open at St Andrews this week. She hit some balls in the Swing Zone and also had talks with officials with the Royal & Ancient.

“I’ve been talking to Martin Slumbers and the team. There is an absolute commitment to make sure that Scotland is seen as the home of The Open and that we keep The Open coming here as regularly as it has done. The Open is enormously important and significant, so to have The Open here at an y time is very special and important but to have the 150th Championship here, the biggest ever, is monumental. Mrs Sturgeon also highlighted the need for support for Scotland’s council run municipal courses. Fandabidozi.

This week Mrs Sturgeon has once again set out the need for a second referendum on Scottish Independence. This raises the question that if Scotland were to become independent (and if Northern Ireland were to become part of a united Ireland) what would happen to their courses on The Open rota? St Andrews, Muirfield, Carnoustie, Royal Troon and Royal Portrush? And would the R&A have to move out of the clubhouse in St Andrews? ‘

Perhaps if that happened those who defiantly refer to The Open Championship as The British Open (including the journalists at Golf Digest and Tiger Woods) would finally have to call it by its proper name. If the hosting courses were legally not British any longer The Open would be called The Open and not The British Open ever again.

The past year has been a tense one in the mens professional game, and indeed it hasn’t been an underestimation to describe the split of golfers away to play on the LIV tour as bringing about a civil war. It’s been utterly depressing, bewildering and upsetting. And as the final round of the 2022 Open is being played we know that next week there will be more announcements of golfers who are defecting to LIV.

Who are these likely to be? I am watching Tommy Fleetwood progressing through the leaderboard and thinking, it’s probably him. Adam Scott, who this week has defended Greg Norman, could it be him? Justin Rose or Xander Schauffele? We. have to wait and see. But I am looking at Dustin Johnson at -13 on the leaderboard and it does matter now that a LIV golfer doesn’t become the Champion Golfer of the Year. It would be very significant if Rory McIlroy could win today.

Although this week has had undercurrents (the booing of Ian Poulter), the alleged ‘cold shouldering’ by lack of TV coverage and less than stellar pairings of the LIV golfers, this noise has been rhubarb going on in the background. It hasn’t overpowered the event. Indeed this has been a glorious, blessed relief from all of that. I just have a feeling in my bones that sooner or later the LIV golfers will return to the fold with their tails between their legs. I hope I’m right.

This has been my ninth Open at St Andrews, my 45th over all – I went to my first when I was 7, so yes I am that old. It’s been glorious and this year has been a magnificent highlight. It’s taken away the dark shadow of LIV, for a week at least.

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