Unlikely champs par for course at British Open
SANDWICH, England — As workers pieced together plastic tables and hammered the last tents into place Sunday, Aaron Baddeley got an idea of just how punishing a British Open course can be when you don’t hit the ball straight.
Coming to the final hole of a friendly practice game with fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy, Baddeley sprayed his tee shot far to the right, toward the sponsor suites that were still being spruced up before the crowds descend on Royal St. George’s.
Baddeley ignored the vacuum cleaner humming in the background and hopped over two metal barricades, hoping to locate the ball in the tall, thick grass.
“This course rewards someone who’s playing really well,” Ogilvy said. “The guy who’s playing the best is going to win.”
While that may sound like an obvious thesis, the third major of the year has a knack for producing champions that don’t fit the mold.
Eight years ago, the last time an Open was held on the seaside in southeastern England, a guy named Ben Curtis — barely known at the time beyond family and perhaps a few guys in the locker room — claimed the claret jug while hitting shots on the practice range, preparing for a playoff he didn’t even need.