Sky Sports catches up with Hoylake's club captain ahead of Open Championship week
By Paul Higham
Last Updated: 17/07/14 10:05pm
It’s an honour to handle the Claret Jug at any time, but for Royal Liverpool Golf Club captain Alistair Beggs it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity on Sunday as he hands it over to the winner of The Open.
After months of preparation to turn Royal Liverpool into an Open venue, the time has arrived and for Beggs he now gets to look forward to that moment on Sunday when he hands over the most famous trophy in golf.
“The captaincy at Hoylake is predominantly a ceremonial role so I’m doing a lot of meeting and greeting this week so it’s an entertaining week for me,” Beggs told Sky Sports.
“It’s a great privilege to be handing over the trophy, only 140 people have done it before so I’m very excited about that. We’ve got a horseshoe grandstand around the 18th green for the first time in history so the atmosphere around there will be terrific.
“So it’ll be great to hand over the Jug to, hopefully, a home grown winner.
“The choreography of the handover is something that hasn’t been discussed yet but I’ve been playing it over in my mind and my main focus is not dropping the Jug, that’s my main priority.”
Tiger Woods dominated the field to win in 2006, plotting his way around a fast and firm course using his long irons off the tee. That plan will work again this year, says Beggs, but with the course a bit softer it’ll take more doing.
“Tiger’s strategy was to keep the ball out of the fairway bunkers, anyone who finds them regularly will not do well here, it may take longer clubs to get to the same positions this time because the ground’s not so hard.
“But I think his strategy was correct, and I think that’s the strategy that will win the Open Championship again, obviously the clubs they use this time if it’s a bit windier a bit softer than last time will be different.”
Having Woods back in the field is a big boost for the tournament, and Royal Liverpool as they get to welcome the icon to their club, along with all the exposure that entails.
“It was wonderful news, not only for the club but for the Open, the community and everyone to see Tiger Woods here. He gave us a golfing masterclass here in 2006, he’s a golfing icon, he’s a great champion so it’s great to see him back.
“I’ve played golf here for 40 years so I know it reasonably well, it depends a lot on the weather, it changes day by day. Initially we thought there wouldn’t be too much wind but now there might be a bit more.”
And what of a winner this year? Beggs has been playing this track for four decades so who better to tell us who he will be handing the Claret Jug to on Sunday.
“So somebody who hits it straight, hits it low, a man in form, I quite like Martin Kaymer, but who knows! That’s the wonderful thing about golf you never know.
“I’d love to see a home grown champion, a Rory McIlroy – Justin Rose is in great form, but any of those guys really, it’s not been a great year for British sport so maybe the Open Championship has the opportunity to thrust itself onto the sporting stage with a home grown winner.”