TROON, Scotland – It’s likely far more tame than fictional Faber College’s old Delta House, where Bluto and Flounder fumbled their way through school, doing their best to outmaneuver Dean Wormer in “Animal House.” Six prominent American golfers, including the world No. 3 and the reigning champion golfer of the year, are playing the 145th British Open in Scotland this week and living in the same rented house.
It’s economical, for one – even if all these men are millionaires – and certainly helps with the monotony of life in a hotel room. In world order, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner are housemates this week in a manse about a mile from Royal Troon.
Consider it one of those dream buddies’ trips four hackers from the local muni might save up for three years to try. The difference is that one of these players brought a Claret Jug with him, and this week’s golfers even have their own live-in chef.
“It’s guys’ week,” said Fowler, who opened with a 2-under 69.
“A little frat house,” said Thomas, whose early 67 put him just one shot off the early tournament pace set by Patrick Reed. (Phil Mickelson would shoot 63 in the late afternoon.)
Yes, the boys living this week beneath the shingle of Kappa Kappa Birdie are having a roaring time. They sit around, relax, talk a little golf, watch movies together and generally enjoy one another’s company off the course.
Fowler often brings gloves and a baseball to have a catch while off-campus at events. This week, the baseball activities were ratcheted up to a new level. Fowler and Walker were throwing a baseball when the others started finding various sports balls all over the yard, located a makeshift bat, and soon a full game of baseball broke out.
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) July 13, 2016
“We probably were there for 2 1/2, three hours,” Thomas said. “It was great. It was like we were little kids again. Well, not for me and Jordan, I guess … but them (the other four). It was fun.”
(The “little kids” reference? Thomas is 23, and Spieth only 22, the inference being that they still are little kids.)
Forget the Open’s historic course rota. These guys are more interested in seeing what’s in the movie rota back at the house. It has included “The Other Guys,” “The Equalizer” and “Tommy Boy.” On Wednesday night, the gang dined on brisket tacos, something likely not offered on the menu at any of the eateries in the center of Troon. Other nights have been simpler fare, such as chicken and salad.
“It’s definitely enjoyable,” said Fowler, 27, who is one of four single players in the house. “This afternoon we’re going to have a bunch of free time, so we’ll go back and hang out in the house. You’re not stuck in a hotel room. Having that, having a chef, being able to have breakfast and dinner at the house, is nice.
“We do quite a few houses through the years. It’s nice to have a sense of normalcy.”
Before Johnson had to hand back his champion’s Claret Jug on Monday, he joined some of the others in one last celebration: drinking wine from the jug.
“Yeah, it tasted a lot better out of there for some reason,” Thomas said.
The Troon Gang brings back memories of Opens of the mid-1990s when Tiger Woods, Mark O’Meara, Lee Janzen, David Duval, John Cook and the late Payne Stewart would tune up for the championship by playing links golf and fishing together in Ireland.
Asked who was his loudest roommate this week, Fowler said, “I think we’re all causing a bit of a ruckus over there.” Best baseball swing? “Duf,” Fowler said without hesitation. “He’s a sneaky athlete.”
Do any of the six need some work on their throwing arms?
“If we did,” Fowler said, smiling, “you’d have probably seen it on social media by now.”