LYTHAM ST. ANNES, ENGLAND – I’ve been traveling to the Open Championship since 1996, when the Open was staged at Lytham, and like Tiger Woods, I absolutely love this event. Why? Probably its overall flavor. Or, ahem, its flavour. There simply is no other tournament in the world quite like it.
One element that’s different here is the legal wagering that goes on. When I had winner Tom Lehman that very first year at 40-to-1, I was hooked for life. (Note to IRS: There have not been too many winning tickets since.) Fellow Golfweeker Jeff Rude is quite keen on the early ‘omen’ bet, and with good reason. Justin Leonard was on his flight to Scotland (and Troon) in 1997, and Leonard won; seven years later, Rude flew from the U.S. on a flight with Todd Hamilton, and he was a winner, too.
Maybe it’s just a Troon thing. We’ll see. This week, Davis Love III and Stewart Cink, two major champions, happened to be on our flight to Manchester, and the unending signs for Open omens do not end there. There always are some early happenings during tournament week that might tip the wager scale a certain way. A colleague of mine was scrambling to think whom he’d wager on one summer at St. Andrews when, like clockwork, Retief Goosen walked right past the window.
First player we saw in the rental car lot at Manchester? One Simon Dyson. A good sleeper selection who will get a quid or two of support from me. Today’s short drive from our rented house to the golf course at Lytham took us down St. Leonard’s road (Justin again?) and past another sidestreet named “Allenby.” Robert Allenby? Hmmmmmm. The seeds are planted.
Ladbrokes, here we come. We might need a little Davis Love III love at (gulp) 150-1. And he likely won’t be on my plane returning home – for if that ticket comes in, I may be flying privately.