Open champ will need luck, patience and imagination
Noted golf coach Pete Cowen, who has had Major winners Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke on his books, gives the lowdown on what he believes is needed to win the British Open.
Luck and patience
Gareth Lord, Henrik Stenson's caddie, says that if you are drawn within an hour of Justin Rose you might as well go home. That's because Justin always seems to be drawn on the wrong side of the draw.
Some years there is not a right or wrong side as the conditions are consistent, but usually it favours one half, no matter how slight. There's not much you can do about that, except just to try and stay in touch until the weekend. With links, luck plays a big part. You can get an horrendous bounce, or a very kind bounce. That's just the way it is. Be lucky.
You need to accept what the fates give you on the links and you need to be patient. What it takes away it will give back at some stage. What's the point of raging against bad luck?
When people talk about a good wind player, what do they mean? The very best ball-strikers do not really need to use the wind as they largely take it out of the equation.
The advice I would give to the average golfer is to use the wind as a buffer.
Hit it into the wind rather than hit with it, as then you can exert some control. Of course, this is impossible if you are hitting directly downwind. But almost always it will be slightly across. Do not use the wind necessarily to achieve more length. Use it as your friend to exert control.
Playing in wind is all about putting compression on a ball. It gives you an initial direction and will hold its flight. If you put maximum pressure on the ball it will not move anywhere in the wind - it will penetrate.
If you have the slightest bit of tilt that will make the ball spin and then it will blow off wherever. That's why when you are hitting a low shot you need to rest the pressure. Everybody tries to lean on it and shut the clubface and that is fine for the average golfer, but that is not the way for the top players to hit low shots correctly.
That's the beauty of links golf. It is not just simply a case of the caddie giving the player a number and a club and the player hitting it almost like a robot. You cannot chuck the ball in the air because there is invariably wind and uneven surfaces to take into account.
Links is the game where you keep the ball on the ground as much as you can, landing it 50 yards short if you have to and using the contours of the ground to your advantage. Pádraig Harrington is the most imaginative player out there, in my opinion, because he can visualise and puts what he sees into operation. This is what defines the intelligent players. (© Daily Telegraph, London)