IT’S a story of the old and the new for armchair fans of the Open Golf Championship this weekend.
Perhaps you’re a keen player, avid fan or once a year crazy golfer like me. It doesn’t matter. Everyone can appreciate the sporting drama at Hoylake as it moves towards a climax on Sunday evening.
Gary Lineker, 45, is a relatively recent addition to the BBC Sport golf team. He became main presenter this year, following Steve Rider’s defection to ITV, having hosted highlights programmes for a number of years.
Nearer to the other end of life’s fairway is Peter Alliss, 75, who is still the voice of golf. His down-to-earth TV comments always include a word of consoltation for the man who finishes second.
The veteran commentator with the claret voice told me once that he has just one regret about fame. “I tend to get overwhelmed by well wishers and what have you. I don’t really mind, but having a glass of champagne in the Bollinger tent and chatting with friends have become increasingly difficult.”
A round with Alliss remains a deeply relaxing experience, whether you like golf or not. It was at Hoylake that he played his first Open in 1947, at the age of 16.
Peter has a lifetime of experience, and stories, to pass on to viewers, most of whom will forgive him the odd gaffe. His laid-back style has charmed golf enthusiasts in many corners of the world. And if you doubt the global appeal of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club event, just take a look at the international TV schedules. Aside from the BBC, Peter is also working at the Open for American network ABC.
He knows lady luck, and the weather, can play a large part in deciding the final leader board. “I remember playing one round in the morning at the 1956 Open at Hoylake and getting blown away, whereas Peter Thomson, who went on to win, went out at 3.45pm, when it was still breezy, but the sun was out and it made all the difference.”
Peter lists his recreation in Who’s Who as “talking and taking wine with chums”. Defending champion Tiger Woods is the man many want to see at Hoylake, but there will be a few glasses raised to another TV Open favourite over the next few days.