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The Open Championship: Why I Love Golf

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There are lots of reasons, but a couple of important ones are on display at the Open Championship

PGA: The Open Championship - First Round Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

If you are a regular reader of Barking Carnival you know that I am a huge fan of college sports and of the Longhorns. You are also probably aware that my lifetime passion is golf.

There are a lot of reasons for that.

It is the sport that my dad and I shared while growing up.

Every round is a marathon split into 18 holes where mental discipline is as important as your swing. The best players have the mindset of a relief pitcher or an NFL defensive back. Every bad shot must be discarded by the time you reach your ball for the next shot.

It is a game of never ending opportunities for improvement. It is a game of infinite possibilities.

I carry a single digit handicap (6.0-6.9) and according to the USGA only 17% of all golfers have a handicap equal or lower than that. It is also abundantly clear that the gap between me and those playing on the pro tour is just as wide — if not wider — than between me and a beginner.

This week the Open Championship (AKA the British Open) is at Royal Portrush. It is the first time in 68 years that it has been played in Northern Ireland.

Royal Portrush is Rory McIlroy’s home course. He owns the course record, 61, set when he was just 16 years old. This is a really big deal, historically, politically, generationally. McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are the hosts in what is quite possibly the biggest sporting event ever held in Northern Ireland.

When he stepped on the 1st tee Thursday morning McIlroy was the 8-1 favorite to win the tournament. He decided to play it safe and hit an iron off the tee to settle his nerves.

He hit a snap hook out of bounds and eventually walked off the par 4 1st with an 8. That was bookended with a 7 on the par 4th 18th hole. McIlroy records an 8-over 79 in front of friends family and the world.

No way he makes the cut today. Except that he comes out and after a slow start just keeps hitting the next shot. He gets to 18 six-under par for the day and if he birdies 18 he will play on the weekend.

This story didn’t have a happy ending for Rory or golf fans as he settled for a par.

But the point is he shut out all the shit from Thursday and just played golf He ended up shooting a 65 — 14 shots better than the day before.

He earned the respect of golf fans and his peers.

David Duval is one of a handful of pros to break 60 during a tournament shooting a 59 to win the Bob Hope Classic in 1999. He eventually reached the #1 ranking in the world, and won the Open in 2001. Thursday was as historical a round as that 59.

Octuple.

That is what as known as eight over par on one hole. I have had an Octuple.

I have never been nine over on one hole, and have no idea as to what that is called. Neither does Duval, but he recorded whatever it is on the 7th hole at Royal Portrush on Thursday. He also had a quadruple bogey and a triple bogey en route to posting a 91. A 20-over par 91.

He never considered walking off the course before posting his score.

“You have an obligation as a professional athlete. If you play, you post your score,” Duval said. “Am I happy about that? Is there some ... embarrassment to it? I don’t know. But I teed off in the Open and I shot 91 today. So put it on the board.”

He came back today and put up a 78 for a 27-over total of 169

Play it as it lays. Count every shot. Come back the next day and try to be better.

That’s why I love golf