TROON, Scotland — After securing a spot in this week’s British Open earlier this month, William McGirt was certain he would be making the trip to Scotland — he just didn’t know what to put in his suitcase.
“I had trouble figuring out how to pack for this trip,” McGirt told The Robesonian. “Everyone tells me to plan for hot and dry, and also cold, wet and windy. Everyone tells me it’s similar to the weather at Pebble Beach — if you don’t like it, give it 10 minutes and it will change.”
While the weather at Royal Troon Golf Club is sure to be unpredictable throughout the week, the Fairmont native is pumped about the opportunity to play in the 145th edition of golf’s oldest major.
“I’m really excited about the Open Championship,” said McGirt, who left for Scotland this past Sunday with his wife Sarah. “I’ve never been to Europe so this will be a very fun trip.”
He tees off at 5:31 a.m. EST on Thursday with Kodai Ichihara and Robert Rock. The group will start the second round at 10:32 a.m. on Friday.
McGirt was added to the field because of his position in the FedEx Cup rankings. He currently sits 12th in the standings and 46th in the official world ranking.
As he prepares to navigate the par-71, 7,190-yard links course for the first time, McGirt sees it as a welcomed challenge.
“I looked at the virtual tour of the course on the website and it looks really cool,” he said. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a style of golf that we don’t get to play here in the USA. It requires a lot of imagination and creativity. I like courses that make you think.
“I’ve heard stories of guys hitting sand wedge on the Postage Stamp par-3 (eighth hole) one day and hitting 5-iron the next. The hole is 125 yards. That reminds me of No. 7 at Pebble. I hit 6-iron there a few years ago from (about) 105 (yards). When the winds gets going like that, you can pretty much toss the yardage book in the trash.”
The British Open returns to Royal Troon for the first time since Todd Hamilton prevailed 12 years ago. Including Hamilton, the last six winners at the course have been Americans.
Zach Johnson is the defending champion of the event, emerging from a playoff with Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman at St. Andrews last year to claim the Claret Jug.
NBC has taken over television coverage, as the tournament ended its relationship with ABC/ESPN. Coverage on Thursday and Friday will be provided on Golf Channel from 1:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with NBC splitting the coverage on Saturday and Sunday. Golf Channel will provide coverage from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. throughout the weekend, with NBC taking the 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. slot.
With a loaded field, a major championship and weather at the forefront, McGirt aims to make his mark in the quest to lift the Claret Jug on Sunday afternoon.
“It should be a lot of fun,” he said. “I can’t wait.”
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.