Sport Golf

Monday 25 September 2017

Underdog Hamilton returns to scene of Troon triumph

Todd Hamilton has returned to Royal Troon for the first time since 2004 after deliberately staying away to preserve the memories of his shock Open triumph. Photo: Reuters
Todd Hamilton has returned to Royal Troon for the first time since 2004 after deliberately staying away to preserve the memories of his shock Open triumph. Photo: Reuters

Phil Casey

Todd Hamilton has returned to Royal Troon for the first time since 2004 after deliberately staying away to preserve the memories of his shock Open triumph.

Hamilton was playing in just his eighth Major championship when he defeated world number two Ernie Els in a four-hole play-off to become the sixth consecutive American winner of the Open at Troon.

As a former champion, the 50-year-old from the small town of Galesburg, Illinois - population 1,500 - has played in every Open since, but did not even visit Troon when the championship was held at nearby Turnberry in 2009.

"I never have been tempted," Hamilton said. "I'm not superstitious or anything, but I always wanted to have good memories and didn't want to mess it up by coming here and hitting a drive in a bunker where I shouldn't or three-putting a hole where I shouldn't.

"Sunday was the first time I'd been back so I noticed the clubhouse was redone inside. I couldn't even remember how to get to the driving range.

"I could remember all of the holes, but I think they built a few new tee boxes further back. They never build them further ahead any more! I don't remember everything that happened, but I remember enough to make it a very memorable and cherished event. I would like to have some other good memories this year."

Some of the things Hamilton does remember are the strange omens which seemed to abound that week, from a priest praying for him after sitting next to his wife on the plane from the US, to his caddie telling a local restaurant owner they would return with the Claret Jug.

And when he played a late practice round on Tuesday, his name happened to be on the scoreboard at the 18th.

"They had just done a trial run of the scoreboard, and my name was up there with maybe Darren Clarke. And I think they had (David) Duval at three-under. But they had my name at the top, which I thought was kind of odd."

Irish Independent

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