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The champs, and choker in van de Velde

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Rolex Testimonee and former Open Champion, Gary Player at St Andrews.

IDEAL topography aside, Harry Colt has created a genuine masterpiece when he remodelled Royal Portrush in 1929 following the formation of the club back in 1888 as "The County Club". Two of his original holes were replaced in the 1940's with the now 10th & 11th.

The recent work of Martin Ebert in eliminating what were two of the weakest holes on the property (the old 17th and 18th) and replacing them with the new 7th & 8th has also taken something already very highly-regarded to a different new level.

The private golf club in County Antrim in Northern Ireland which hosted the 1951 British Open is considered to be one of the best courses in the world, ranked by Golf Digest as the fourth best layout outside the United States in 2007.

Famous course reviewer Ed Battye says: "What puts Portrush on a different stratosphere is not the high quality of individual holes, but the odyssey the course takes you on, the timing of the holes, the exquisite routing of the links, the unexpected magical moments you experience while trying to golf your ball."

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The bunkering is minimal but menacing. Each tee offers a plethora of choices in terms of line and length, risk and reward. Corners can be cut, aggressive lines can be taken but sometimes conservatism is the best choice.

It all adds up to 7,313 yards from the championship tees that will decide The Open, which returns to Portrush for the first time after 68 years.

Over the past 147 British Opens, the event has seen innumerable exciting moments, many famous shots and a litany of great winners. Among them was South African Gary Player, now 83 and still playing socially.

The Rolex Testimonee hit perhaps the greatest shot of his career in his 1968 victory at Carnoustie. On the final day, at the par-five 14th, Player struck a mighty second shot hit into a gale-force wind, finishing less than two feet from the hole. He putted for an eagle that helped him to a two-shot win.

Talking about great finishes, there were plenty. John Daly's four-shot four-hole play-off victory over Constantino Rocca in 1995 and Padraig Harrington's 2007 triumph with an excellent final-day 67 to overnight leader Sergio Garcia's 74 that forced a play-off which eventually saw the Irishman take the Claret Jug.

What about Swede Henrik Stenson's 2016 triumph when he blitzed the field with a 20-under (three-under 68-68-65-63) score at Royal Troon in Scotland to become the first Scandinavian to win a men's golf Major?

Of course, when you relive the British Open you cannot forget Frenchman Jean van de Velde's catastrophic collapse on the final day in the 1999 Open at Carnoustie. Needing only a double-bogey, he sliced his drive and dumped his ball into the right side burn.

His second shot went just a little to the right, crashed into the grandstand railing, bounced off the stone wall near Barry Burn and went 50 yards in the wrong direction into some thick rough.

He hit his third shot into Barry Burn, and then, shoeless and in rolled-up pants, he was going to hit the submerged ball, but changed his mind and took a drop. The choker triple-bogeyed the hole and subsequently lost in a play-off to Paul Lawrie.

Memories, good and bad, are made of these.