The British Open, known as the Open Championship by some, arrives this week at long last.
Are you ready? If you can’t pass my Big Bad Bloody Open Quiz, the answer is no. Perhaps you should enjoy something British -- tea and crumpets, perhaps, or a jammy dodger with a refreshing bottle of Lilt -- while my Open questions beguile, bewitch and bewilder you.
Unless you get a perfect score, that is, in which case your remote will be promptly returned.
Either way, it’s never a bad time for a spot of Lilt (a citrus-y soda).
The Big Bad Bloody British Open Quiz
1. How many courses are in the current Open Championship rota?
2. What did John Daly claim helped power his 1995 Open victory at the Old Course?
a. Marlboros and Jim Beam
b. Chocolate chip muffins and Wilson Pickett CDs
c. The ghost of Old Tom Morris and jammy dodgers
d. The Smurfs and Mrs. Peel
3. In the Open’s first three-hole aggregate playoff at Troon in 1989, who joined Greg Norman and eventual champ Mark Calcavecchia in the playoff?
a. Tom Lehman
b. Jose Maria Olazabal
c. Wayne Grady
d. Wayne Brady
4. When 44-year-old Roberto de Vicenzo surprised even himself by finally winning the 1967 Open at Royal Liverpool, he said he would bring the Claret Jug back the next year and hoped to hand it to whom?
a. Arnold Palmer
b. Homero Blancas
c. Some young British pro
d. Ringo Starr
5. What did the Open Championship do for the first time in 1980?
a. Finish on Sunday instead of Saturday
b. Allow the larger American golf ball to be played
c. Let players use their own caddies instead of the host club’s caddies
d. Ruled that players could ride ponies instead of walking
6. Complete this old Scottish saying: “Nae wind, nae rain, ___ _____.”
a. Nae golf
b. Nae way
c. Na Kevin
d. Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey-hey, goodbye.
7. Which of the following players was not in the playoff won by Ernie Els at Muirfield in 2002?
a. Thomas Levet
b. Stewart Appleby
c. Steve Elkington
d. Jean Van de Velde
8. At which future Open site were the Rules of Golf formulated and administered for decades before the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews took over in the late 19th century?
d. Formby Ladies Club
9. Who is the only Frenchman to win an Open Championship?
a. Arnaud Massy
b. Jean Van de Velde
c. Victor Dubuisson
d. Maurice Chevalier
10. When Tiger Woods won the last Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006, challenger Sergio Garcia wore an all-canary yellow outfit in the final round but shot 73 and fell back to fifth. Which of the following headlines appeared in one of the British tabloid newspapers the next day?
a. The bane from Spain falls mainly from his plane
b. Rare Spanish yellow-bellied sap-sucker spotted at Hoylake
c. Sergio tawt he taw a puddy tatt--he did, he did, a gwate big puddy tat!
d. Sergio, You’ll Never Be Top Banana
11. Which one of the following is NOT the name of one of Royal Liverpool’s holes?
c. Punch Bowl
12. Why was play halted during the second round of the 2010 Open at St. Andrews, eventually won by Louis Oosthuizen?
a. A bomb threat in the Old Course clubhouse
b. Too windy
c. A surprise visit from Queen Elizabeth II, whose helicopter set down on the 18th green
d. Kevin Na
13. How does three-time Open champion Nick Faldo of England insist on being addressed?
a. Sir Nick Faldo
b. The Count of Heresford
c. Bond, James Bond
d. Her Majesty The Queen
Answers: 1-c. 2-b. 3-c. 4-c. 5-a. 6-a. 7-d. 8-a. 9-a. 10-d. 11-d. 12-b. 13-a.
13 correct: Blimey, ain’t you just a perfect Lil’ Lord Fauntleroy?
12 correct: Not bad for a bloody plonker, old chap
10-11 correct: You’re all right for an Anglo-Saxon
8-9 correct: Give little Jimmy here a swell trophy for finishing 27th
6-7 correct: Some of your vast answers were clearly half-vast
4-5 correct: As they say in Jawja, “Bo’, yew ’bout half-smart.”
2-3 correct: Good job on those three questions that were gimmies
0-1 correct: Go back to GutterBall.com where you belong
Enough about me. Moving on to this week’s Van Cynical Mailbag…
Van Cynical, Previous winners at this year’s venue?
--Perry Dotson via Twitter
Well, that Tiger Woods clod somehow doddered his way to victory in 2006 at Hoylake. Before that, Roberto de Vicenzo in 1967. Before that, Peter Thomson and a bunch of dead guys and museum exhibits.
Vans, Colin Montgomerie has now won two senior majors. How difficult is it really to win senior majors?
--The Bogey Train via Twitter
It’s frightfully hard to win senior majors, Col. Bogey, frightfully hard. To do it once is a bit of a bother, old boy, but to do it twice, well, one cannot begin to imagine the difficulty involved. Mainly since there’s no such thing as senior majors. Still, well bowled, Monty. Well bowled, indeed.
Van Sickle, It’s officially The Open, original and best. Why don’t you call it by its proper name?
--PaulRWilkinson via Twitter
Possibly it has escaped your notice, Wilkie, that the United States also hosts a big event called the Open. So American readers can tell the difference, we call one the U.S. Open and the other the British Open. If you simply say The Open in America, Americans assume you mean the U.S. Open. We can’t have that kind of bollocks, now can we old boy? Original and best, by jove, yes, but lighten up.
Van Cynical, When did it become The Open instead of The British Open? And can we go back to The British Open?
--Bud via Twitter
Hey, Wilkie! See what I mean! This is exactly what I’m talking about. A big mix-up. Is that what you want? Are you happy now? Well, are you? Bud, it’s always been just The Open in Britain since it was first originated right after the Second Crusade or thereabouts. And it’s always been the British Open in the U.S., except now a bunch of stuffy Brits are trying to mix up our Opens. You keep your kilometers, we’ll keep our miles. What’s the problem here?
Vans, Did we overrate golfers like Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner? All are having poor to mediocre years.
--Brian Rosenwald via Twitter
Short answer, yes. Long answer, we all fall in love with a guy’s game when he wins because he played his best golf that week. Sure, Bradley’s or Mahan’s best golf is world class, close to best-in-the-world stuff. The measure of a real star is how often he plays his best golf. In the case of the old Tiger Woods or even Greg Norman, it was almost every week. Most of today’s top names, a half-dozen weeks a year. As you pointed out, BriRo, these guys have been lagging but they are not alone. Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer are the only guys standing out from the crowd this summer.
Sickle, Which Open venue is the best and which Open course is the worst, in your esteemed opinion?
--Kirby via email
Since they’ve played some form of golf there since the 1400s, it’s known as the Home of Golf and it’s smack-dab in the middle of the cutest, history-laden university town, the Old Course at St. Andrews is the obvious best. After that, Turnberry, Muirfield, Troon and Birkdale can fight it out for second-best. Royal Liverpool is close to the bottom for its featureless, uninteresting track but I’d grudgingly have to give Royal St. George’s the bottom spot. It’s a pretty course, but it’s the only links that plays better when it’s soft. When it’s firm, balls hit into fairways kick into bunkers and fescue. Skill is replaced too often by luck. That’s no way to identify the champion golfer of the year.
Vans, What’s the best course in Scotland that American tourists don’t know about?
--TheBranch via email
Let’s be honest, most American tourists know darned little about Scotland and its lengthy history. There are too many good underrated courses to name. But two you should hit that aren’t on most people’s must-play bucket list are Elie, a delightfully shortish track south of St. Andrews with an old submarine periscope at the starter’s shack to see when the first fairway, a blind shot, is clear, and Dunbar, east of Edinburgh, which is hard by the sea, is fun but testing, and has a classic par-3 hole known as Jackson’s Pennies because once upon a time, an older gent named Jackson used to roost on a bench behind the green and give a penny to any youngster who made a birdie on the hole, if I remember the tale correctly.