Terrific Troon. Two words that, for me anyway, sum up the ninth Open Championship to be held at the Ayrshire venue and first in 12 years.
Sure, Mother Nature did her best to spoil things, with the Friday spectators suffering the most as they were forced to endure the worst of the conditions in a real mixed bag over the course of the week.
I kept hearing people say, “the crowds are low out there”, yet the figures finally revealed by the R&A on Sunday night proved that hadn’t been the case. A total attendance of 173,134 was around only 3,000 down on 2004, though, interestingly, the practice days on this occasion were up by that same figure while Saturday, when 36,976 poured through the gates, was the only tournament day to see an increase.
The players, the majority of whom were playing it for the first time, loved the course and no wonder. It really is a gem, with so many great holes in addition to that gem of gems, the Postage Stamp.
The event will go down in golfing folklore and rightly so after the battle royal between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson in the final two rounds. The quality of their golf is reflected in the mountain of stats that have piled out since the Swede claimed the Claret Jug.
No-one, for instance, had a lower score than Stenson in each of the last three rounds – 65-68-63 – at Troon and the last time that happened in a major was 1900 by JH Taylor. Mickelson’s four-round score of 267, meanwhile, would have won 140 of the 145 Open Championships played.
“I was there,” will be the claim for years to come by those lucky enough to witness the great contest, one that certainly put a smile back on golf’s face after that US Open fiasco and the rumpus over no-shows for the Olympics.