As the dust settles on this year's Open Championship, what better to reflect on who can leave Royal Troon with their heads held high - and who, quite frankly, can't.
Ladies and gentlemen, the results are in...
Henrik Stenson – A+
A new record winning score relative to par; a new record winning aggregate score; a final round 63 that, but for two bogeys, would have been a 61 – yeah, the big Swede produced one of the all-time great Open performances. His ten birdies in his last 18 holes were more than the likes of Colin Montgomerie, Graeme McDowell, Branden Grace, Jamie Donaldson and Jim Furyk managed in 72 holes. Nobody hit more greens in regulation and only four players found more fairways. How best to describe Stenson’s performance? ‘Inspired’ comes close; ‘peerless’, even closer. Magnificent.
Phil Mickelson - A
Seventeen-under-par would have been enough for a win or play-off in all but four of the previous 144 Open Championships. Incredible, eh? He made not one bogey in the final round – and yet still ended up three shots shy of Stenson. Quite honestly, ‘Lefty’ couldn’t have done much more. As for that record-breaking tilt at a 62 in the first round? That’s why they call him ‘Phil The Thrill’.
Royal Troon - A
Okay, so it was a little bit greener than perhaps the R&A and even the club itself would have wanted (Scottish summers, eh?) but the historic links of Royal Troon once again produced an Open that left you wondering why it hasn’t staged the championship more than nine times. At just over 7,000 yards and with a 123-yard par-3 – the magnificent ‘Postage Stamp’ – it also delivered a timely reminder that major tests don’t need to be obscenely long to be challenging. Only 17 players, after all, broke par. Take note, Mike Davis. This is how you set up a golf course.
Sky’s debut - A
Just brilliant. With its informed commentary team, expert analysts, blanket coverage on a dedicated channel and numerous outstanding features (the tribute to Barclay Howard on Sunday being a notable stand-out), Sky Sports did a sensational job of covering its first Open. It wasn’t just its television coverage, either; the online and social media team did a stellar job, too. All in all, a superb start… and not a rubber duck in sight.
The R&A – B
First, the good bits. Martin Slumbers comes across as an engaged and well-intentioned chief executive; there were no rules controversies; the course set-up was fair and sensible. Now, for the bad bits… Whoever decided to let Peter Unsworth near a microphone needs a talking to (the man is a soporific bore); there are still too many people inside the ropes; if there were 173,000 people in attendance across the week, as reported, then I’m Davis Love; and the reserved seating in the 18th grandstand needs to be reviewed – empty seats does not make for much of a spectacle. In summary? Room for improvement.
The Big Three - D
Day, Spieth, McIlroy – not one of them so much as threatened the leaders all week. If that’s ‘big’, I don’t want to know what ‘small’ is.
Johnny Miller - F
During the fourth round, Miller, commentating on American television, said that Rory McIlroy might have a better chance of winning majors if he stopped caring so much about looking muscular and wearing tight clothes. That’s Johnny “two-time major winner” Miller giving Rory “four-time major winner” McIlroy advice on how to win majors. Right you are, Johnny. Right you are.
Sandy Lyle – D-
Just 31 years ago, this guy won the Open. Three years later, he won the Masters. For me, he is the greatest Scottish golfer that has ever lived. That’s why it’s so painful to see him turn up at the Open year after year and toil. He has missed the cut in 12 of his last 20 appearances - but this year was a desperate new low. Rounds of 85 and 78 saw him finish on 21-over-par and marooned at the bottom of the leaderboard by three clear shots. There’s a suspicion that 2020 will see the Open return to Royal St George’s, the scene of Lyle’s triumph in 1985. If so, let’s hope he uses the opportunity to bow out.
The BBC ‘highlights’ - F
You’ve got two hours to show the best bits of the day’s golf and you decide to waste a chunk of it with ‘Ken On The Course’? Jesus wept.
The merchandise tent – F
A pale imitation of what it used to be – and an overpriced one at that. £20 for a replica flag? Away you go. And on that point…
The cost of admission – Z
Yes, it was cheaper to go to the Open this year as compared with last (if you booked your tickets in advance). It’s also cheaper relative to other sports in terms of the amount of action you can expect to be able to watch (12 hours versus 90 minutes, for example). However, £80 (the price of a daily ‘on the door’ ticket) is still more than a lot of people can afford – and that’s just to get in. By the time you factor in food, drink, travel, parking and maybe a little souvenir, you’re talking close to £150 for the average man on the street. That’s simply too much and it’s excluding a sizeable chunk of the population. In short, if you want to grow the game, you could start by reducing your prices.
Open Championship report card :: Do you agree?
Do you agree with Michael's assessment of the 2016 Open Championship? Leave your thoughts in the 'Comments' section below.