Open Time For Big Ben at Sandwich
It just shows that The Open is open to everybody. Bens exemption came in only his second decent week of a rookie season, but he came over early, prepared properly, honed a half decent game into as good as it could have been and refused to shy away when up there with the leaders. Full marks to the lad and I just hope he turns into a true champion.You never know, Ben might be setting a trend for lesser known and rated players to be able to come through and claim the worlds biggest prizes. They are uninhibited because they know they have nothing to lose whereas the better players believe that Tiger is going to win half the time so their chances are limited.Players like Ben have lower expectation levels there is far less pressure on them, but I do hope he rains on now and has a long career at the top. We certainly dont want him to fade away.It was a disappointing week for many of our players and none more so than Darren Clarke, who feels the expectation levels of the British public a lot at The Open.Unfortunately Darren never felt at home at Royal St. Georges, but although he was brought up on the vagaries of links golf, not all courses on the coast can suit him. And so it proved in Sandwich.If we had major plus points they came from Mark Foster, who has had a terrible time with injuries over the last three months. He did much better than he or anybody else could have anticipated and I am sure he will now go on and have a particularly good second half of the season, especially since his year is really just beginning again after his fantastic start to it.A similar sentiment can be extended to Paul McGinley, who I know is desperate to do well at the Irish Open this week. I think he has now turned the corner and will really enjoy the rest of the season.Lee Westwood may not have made the cut, but I believe he made considerable steps forward. He definitely played the best golf of the last three or four years for the first 12 holes of both his first and second rounds, but unfortunately could not finish them off.I am sure he has taken the positives away with him and realised that he is very close to contending again. I will be extremely surprised if he does not win again before the end of the season.David Howell was very disappointed not to make the cut because he played well, but fell victim to the minefield that is Royal St. Georges. At least he is swinging the club better than at any time since he turned professional in 1995.Charl Schwartzel not only enjoyed the experience but will have learnt from it as will Simon Wakefield. If Charl was unhappy not to make all four rounds he should never forget that at the start of the season he would have been very pleased to have made his card by the British Open and actually play in it.The 18-year-old has impressed everybody. None more so than Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter and Bob Torrance, three coaches very much at the peak of their professions. Its not often a young player really excites me but this lad does. He has the game and temperament to go right to the top. It is very exciting for us to be involved with him.From a business point of view, The Open was a big success for us and do not be surprised if next year we are promoting two events on the European Tour.Equally exciting is our partnership with Gaylord in America. Their officials and players really did make an effort with ours to integrate and not once was it more obvious than at ISMs annual Monday night barbecue.It was great to see Phil Mickelson pitching to Paul Casey, who had a cricket bat rather than the baseball variety in his hands. Phil and Gaylords latest client, Ricky Barnes, came round for a bite to eat and everybody showed how serious we are about our new relationship. I am looking forward to many exciting times alongside them in the future.