The Open: Ewen Murray believes the deal between the R&A and Sky is a 'partnership made in heaven'
Last Updated: 04/02/15 10:20am
Ewen Murray has welcomed the "wonderful news" that Sky Sports will screen exclusive live coverage of the Open Championship from 2017.
Sky Sports and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club have signed an historic five-year deal which will see the oldest and most prestigious tournament in golf enjoy unrivalled and ground-breaking coverage.
The announcement was welcomed wholeheartedly by Murray, one of the most widely respected golf commentators in the world, and he believes Sky's agreement with the R&A is a "partnership made in heaven".
"It completes the Sky portfolio," Murray told Sky Sports News HQ. "Obviously, the Open Championship is the jewel in the crown, and I look forward to see how Sky handle The Open.
"I also think it’s wonderful for the R&A – for me, it’s a partnership made in heaven.
"The Open is the oldest of all the major championships. Back in the 60s, interest in the tournament was beginning to wane. But then Arnold Palmer arrived and it became a truly international event and everyone wanted to play in it. Arnold popularised the tournament and gave it new life.
"From there we had Tony Jacklin winning in 1969, a very special moment at Royal Lytham, and then we had the years of Seve, Nick Faldo, and all our own home-grown players that have grown with the championship itself. It’s very exciting, and I think everyone at Sky is thrilled to have it.
"The Open Championship will have the Sky stamp on it, and you never know what that’s going to be because Sky is a company that does not sit still - it’s a company that always looks forward, and always tries new innovations.
"Look at how the US Open is handled now, and I thought last year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles took sports broadcasting to a brand new level.
"There will be a dedicated channel, I have no doubt, and it won’t just be four days of coverage. There will be a lot of build-up as well as in-depth coverage post-championship. There will be so much to enjoy, and not just over the four days."
Murray's views were echoed by former Ryder Cup star Andrew Coltart, who insisted Sky's coverage of the Ryder Cup is proof that television coverage of the Open Championship from 2017 is in perfectly safe hands.
"It’s absolutely fantastic news, personally," he said. "You look at what Sky has done with the Ryder Cup: It’s such an incredible spectacle now, Sky already covers three majors, it just makes sense that they’ll do four.
"They’ve got an incredible team of people that are dedicated and committed to providing the viewer with just exactly what they what. I think people who sit down to watch it on Sky will be absolutely delighted with what Sky can provide.
"You get what you want. You get the chance to switch on the television and watch golf non-stop, right the way through, from beginning to end. Sky doesn’t miss a shot. The reporters are right there on the ball, literally, just giving the viewer every type of information they can possibly provide.
Creative and modern
"The whole team in the background are very creative, very modern. I go back to the Ryder Cup – it was fantastic when you saw the players almost entering the arena before they went to do battle in the studio. And that kind of modern approach to it is absolutely fantastic, and it’s great that Sky can do that.
"Having played in these events – they are fantastic, the experience is incredible, and to see it from the other side of the ropes and pass on that player information, the emotion that these players are going through, hopefully I get the opportunity to do that and I thoroughly look forward to it."
Fellow Sky Sports commentator Mark Roe added: "I think it’s absolutely wonderful. I’ve been a Sky man through and through since I retired as a player, and the one thing I’ve loved doing with Sky is the cutting edge stuff that they do.
"Nick Dougherty mentioned the Sky Cart, and I was very much involved in the green-screen technology and the massive touchscreen at the Masters. I just think we take golf coverage to a different level, and the investment into that is wonderful.
"It’s another step forward for Sky to have all the majors and I think we do golf better than anybody. If I had to rank the major championships, The Open always comes right at the top of the list. It’s the oldest, it’s got the most history and it was always an essential part of every season."
Tony Jacklin, the 1969 Open champion, has backed the decision and believes the R&A knows what is best for the future of the sport.
"Sky are dedicated to the sport," the 1970 U.S. Open champion told Reuters. "In my opinion they are helping to grow the game and I think they'll continue to do a great job.
"This is an important time for golf and I'm sure they've (the R&A) deliberated a lot over it. I think they've got the best of both worlds with this decision."
Highs and lows
Roe provided one of the most unfortunate Open headlines in 2003, when he was contending for the lead after the third round before being disqualified following a scorecard mix-up with playing partner Jesper Parnevik.
"I played in a dozen Opens and I had my ups and downs," Roe added. "I’m often asked about 2003 when I had the incident with my scorecard, when I was only a couple of shots off the lead going into the final round. It’s a long time ago now, and it all happened so quickly. It went from being the most amazing day of my life to probably the most disappointing.
"I still look back on it as a lost opportunity, as I would have been playing with Tiger Woods on the Sunday. Winning The Open was beyond my wildest dreams, but I felt I was denied the opportunity by a silly scorecard error, and they changed the ruled two years later!
"It’s given me a lot of emotional highs and lows, but it’s the greatest championship in the world bar none."