Events at Sandwich suggest that The Open is yet another event that isn’t coming home
The Euros, Wimbledon, the Open — England has hosted some big sporting parties so far this summer, although a home triumph has been the missing ingredient.
Perhaps Lewis Hamilton will change that on Sunday at Silverstone. At Sandwich the likelihood is that golf will be added to the list of those where it is not coming home.
Not after a day at the Open when the domestic challenge never quite fired up in the way that would have been hoped, despite the urgings of the 32,000 spread around Royal St George’s.
The Open is yet another event that likely isn’t coming home after English golfers didn’t fire up
Despite Paul Casey (pictured) and Andy Sullivan ending five under, they’re way off the pack
Paul Casey and the less heralded Andy Sullivan ended at five under to maintain a vague sniff of glory on Sunday, but it will take a fairly dramatic switch around for either to grasp the Claret Jug.
Almost all the big guns in English golf had survived the cut, but none could quite make a move. Perhaps we should not be too surprised, as the most prominent names have long since specialised in consistency rather than outright glory.
There are seven English players currently in the world’s top 50 who have enjoyed what are, in most ways, enviable careers and certainly lucrative ones. Between them they have played 372 majors, including this week, but the only win in that total remains Justin Rose’s 2013 US Open triumph.
Despite recording a birdie on the seventh hole, Justin Rose just could not get a run going
TRYING TO END 30 YEARS OF HURT…
You have to go back to 1992 for the last English winner of The Open and it looks like that wait will go on. These are the best placed Englishmen heading into the final round.
-5 Paul Casey – world ranking: 21
Knew it would be a tough day after wildly hacking his way down the first for a bogey.
-5 Andy Sullivan – world ranking: 85
Bogeys at 15 and 16 saw him lose ground on the chasing pack.
-4 Danny Willett – world ranking: 115
An eagle two at the tenth was majestic; going OB with an iron off the tee at 15 pretty poor.
As for the rest, Tommy Fleetwood (world ranking 35) is on two under, Ian Poulter (50) is on one under and Lee Westwood (29) is on even par, 12 shots off the pace.
England’s top-ranked player, number 10 in the world Tyrrell Hatton, had already missed the cut.
By Sunday night Lee Westwood will have completed 88 of them, setting the record for the most entered without a victory. Danny Willett, past Masters champion but currently outside the top 100, briefly excited hopes of a surge when he eagled the 10th, but he reverted back to four under by the end.
Rose began on Saturday at three under with hopes of making a serious move, but after a birdie on the seventh could not get a run going.
He acknowledged that he and his compatriots continued to find the ultimate success largely elusive, although insisted it was not for the want of trying.
‘There’s that added meaning and pressure to win an Open in England for English players,’ said Rose, who had finished on three under. ‘ I don’t think it ramps up crazily like the Euros, with the whole nation getting behind the team.
‘I haven’t quite got myself into the hunt here — if I was at eight or nine there would be that added pressure and the opportunity to represent the home fans. I can’t tell you how that feels right now but I would love to have that burden.
‘I found that bit extra at the US Open. Tommy (Fleetwood), (Ian) Poults, (Lee) Westy, Paul (Casey) — they are all good enough to win majors, it’s that little intangible about what gets you over the line.
‘We don’t really discuss it, some things are best swept under the rug. I’m glad that monkey is off my back and I’m not part of that conversation. I’m still battling to win number two.
‘We can all look back at our careers and the ones that got away but English golf is incredibly strong. We are well represented but you want to be knocking on the door when it comes to winning the biggest championships.’
British golfers will still help form an Anglo-Spanish spine to this year’s Europe Ryder Cup team. The last qualifying event is the PGA Championship at Wentworth on September 9, to form a squad that has an intimidating task against the Americans on their home soil.
Danny Willett excited hopes when he eagled the 10th, but he fell back to four under by the end
While ranking points are most generous on the US PGA Tour, the listings show how strong the home team will be, with eight of the world’s top nine coming from that side of the pond, and 13 of the top 20.
Westwood was phlegmatic after his 72 saw him fall back to level par. The frustration almost got to him on the eighth when he contemplated snapping his club over his knee, only to realise that the ball had ended up only inches from the hole.
He was left looking forward to Whistling Straits in September and thinks the European challenge should not be underestimated.
‘I think it will be a good venue for us. I don’t think it’s the kind of place you can Americanise — you can’t make the greens silly quick because it gets windy, you can’t make the fairways any wider and that time of year could be like this or chilly, and if it’s the latter then we have more experience.’
Lee Westwood, who finished with 72, set a record by entering his 88th Major without a victory
He is nonetheless sceptical of the potential disharmony in the opposition centering on the feud between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.
‘I don’t know what to make of it, they’re just messing around aren’t they?’ he suggested, wondering if it might be connected to the social media bonuses in play.
‘If that’s their aim they are top of the money list, that’s what everyone is talking about.’
Not out of the Ryder reckoning is a Scottish ingredient in the form of 24-year-old Bob MacIntyre. Having only just scrambled into the weekend late on Friday, he went out early and finished with a flourish.
Three birdies in the last five holes pushed him up to four under and a best-of-the-day 65, with the last coming in the form of a 60-foot putt on the 18th.