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Golf Monthly
Golf Monthly
Elliott Heath

Did Porthcawl Make Its Open Case? Why 'Absolute Carnage' Senior Open Was Box Office

Vijay Singh in the rain

The question is often posed during US Open week as to whether we enjoy watching the pros struggle. That was well and truly answered this weekend at Royal Porthcawl.

Miguel Angel Jimenez opened with a 65 to take the day one lead before shooting 19-over-par for the final three rounds. He still managed a top 25.

Colin Montgomerie shot a 17-over-par 88 on Sunday and that wasn't even the highest round of the day, where the scoring average was a whopping 78.5 (+7.5).

Players were faced with 'brutal' conditions where strong winds and constant rain caused havoc, and lots of bogeys, with two-time Major winner Justin Thomas tweeting how he was enjoying the "absolute carnage."

He's right, it was fun to watch. It wasn't a birdie-fest in picture-perfect weather, it was a true 'last man standing' kind of grind in a style of golf that the game's foundations were built on. 

At the thick end of the leaderboard, the brutal rain and winds meant for a fascinating tussle that came right down to the 72nd hole. Padraig Harrington managed a birdie on the par 5 18th at Porthcawl to match Alex Cejka at five-over-par and take it into extra holes.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The German beat the Irishman on the second playoff hole to win his third senior Major.

"It's brutal," Cejka said of the conditions. "You can't hold a balance, even when you're putting, and you're trying to punch drivers. You have wet hands, wet grips. You have a 40-mile-an-hour crosswind, so it wasn't easy as you can see on the scores. They were brutal the last two days.

"I was born in Europe. I grew up here in Europe. I'm not familiar with those conditions like links course but I played on The European Tour for many, many, many years over here, and you know, but I forgot how difficult and how different the golf game is, being 20 years in the States and playing in sunshine and on easy courses when it's perfect weather.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"Then you come here, everybody's struggling. I'm just glad -- I think we all are glad that it's over. It was a brutal week. Even the caddies, everybody is drained. Everybody is sore. But I'm glad it's over and I'm here."

The weekend at Porthcawl was, bizarrely, a brilliant advert for links golf. Any other style of golf and the course would have been flooded, greens unplayable and the action called off.

Thanks to the sandy soil and drainage capabilities of links courses, play could continue and we were able to marvel at the players' skills and enjoy a day of championship action that you'd rarely see anywhere else in the world.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A shoutout to Royal Porthcawl, too. The links is regarded as the best golf course in Wales and it's easy to see why. It looked fantastic on Saturday when the sun was out and it gave us a thrilling Senior Open.

Questions will be asked as to whether it should host an Open. It should.

From purely a golfing standpoint, it would make a brilliant Open course, and the Senior Open showed that. It's also already been a Final Qualifying venue. We saw every facet of Harrington and Cejka's game's being tested at the end, and it was great to watch. 

Having a Wesh venue on the rota also feels like it would make sense. The Open has taken place in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland - yet never in Wales.

Does it have the infrastructure? Not yet, but it can be built. Investment in infrastructure and facilities will be needed but it's a world class links that's only 45 minutes from the Welsh capital of Cardiff and easily accessible for the tens of thousands of fans who would be lining the fairways during an Open week.

It would be a shame for it to never host an Open.

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