The four rounds of the Great Golf Match of 1870 between Old Tom Morris and Willie Park Senior are to be replicated in a shoot-out between 2011’s pre-eminent hickory swingers Randy Jensen (USA) and Perry Somers (Australia), unquestionably today’s best players of hickory golf in the world.

Staged appropriately by Lionel Freedman, Scotland-based Chairman of the World Hickory Open Championships, over the next four days, the two champs will play The Old Course at St Andrews, Prestwick, North Berwick and Musselburgh Old Course, just as Old Tom and Willie Park Senior did a hundred and forty one years ago. Only they didn’t finish the last round at Musselburgh.

Such was the partisan baying from scruffy Musselburgh fans for Willie Park, who was one up one up with six holes to go in the Great Match, that Old Tom repaired to Mrs Forman’s hostelry at the third (today, it’s still just where it was) where he sat, glaring at the Musselburgh scallywags through the pub’s side window. The window is also just where it was in 1870. The curmudgeonly Old Tom Morris was not coming out for anyone – thus scoring an empiric victory as he was the holder of four Open titles to Willie Park Senior’s three.

Nothing like that will happen in The Great Match this week as today’s effusively charming professionals will be impeccably mannered – and, of course, the Musselburgh ‘scallywags’ will be in Goretex instead.

Worthy of note is that Randy Jensen holds no less than eight US Hickory Open titles, while Australian Champion Perry Somers won no less than five European hickory titles last year – and is the current World Hickory Open Champ, a title which he won at Gullane last year.

Loads to play for with the old pre-1936 hickory shafted clubs – but let’s hope Mrs Forman doesn’t get in the way of a result this time.

14 April 2011

Stop Press – Match report from 14 April courtesy of Lionel Freedman –

North Berwick Day 3 of The Great Match. Bright and brezzy again.Perry got of to a great start birdie on the 1st and was five up after five,Randy won 6 and 7 the next five hole were halfed Randy won 13 with a birdie to get back to two,14 called perfection halfed with birdie threes.Match squared at 16.Perry one 17 with bth getting pars at 18 there was no change on the day.Perry one up onto Musselburgh.


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