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Golf Scholarships And British Open Wins
3 min read
The British Open was first played in 1860, on a small course in Ayrshire, Scotland, with only eight men taking part. Over the 156 years since the annual championships have been held, golf fans around the world have watched greats from Nick Faldo and John Daly, to Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, walk away with the Claret Jug. Many of these winners started from much smaller beginnings, often playing for their college team or attending school on a golf scholarship, and a win at the Open will, for them, symbolize the result of their pure hard work and determination. 2000 saw the Open return to St Andrews for the first time in five years, with Tiger Woods claiming his first Open victory – something which he would go on to repeat in 2005 and 2006. Tiger had previously enjoyed massive success, stretching back into his childhood, where he discovered he had a real talent for the game. He was heavily recruited by college coaches, but elected to join Stanford on a golf scholarship, who at that time were the NCAA DI champions. He chose to major in economics during his time at the school, and despite never graduating and only spending two years with the Cardinals, he was held in high esteem, receiving honours including NCAA First-Team All American and Stanford’s Male Freshman of the Year. This gave him a strong standing in the world of golf, and so, when he left the school in 1996, in order to turn professional, he had already sparked interest as a ‘one to watch.’ Phil Mickelson’s victory at the 2013 Open established him as among the few who have managed to win three of the four major tournaments. However, it was 25 years previous, in 1988, when Mickelson’s career in the golfing world really took off. It was then that he was granted a golf scholarship to Arizona State University in Tempe, where he would be able to practice the game he had loved his whole life, honing his skills and learning from the best coaches in the state. Throughout the four years he attended ASU, he quickly grew to become the poster boy for amateur golf in America, winning the Haskins Awards for the most outstanding collegiate golfer over three consecutive years. In 1991, one year before his graduation, he was the low amateur in Augusta, at the 55th Masters Tournament. After graduating from the school and turning professional, he was able to bypass the PGA Tour’s qualifying process, due to his previous excellent performance and the fact that he already had a PGA win under his belt, thus expediting and furthering his move into professional golf. Last year’s Open saw the Claret Jug go to Zach Johnson, a Iowa native who had narrowly beat Louis Oosthuizen in order to claim the victory. Johnson had previously won the 2007 Masters, among other tournaments, but this was his first time finishing within the Top 5 at the Open. He had come a long way since turning professional in 1998, the year he graduated from Drake University in his home state of Iowa. His time at Drake saw him really come into his own, with regard to golf, despite him playing the game since he was a mere ten years old. Across his four seasons there, Johnson acted as the number two player on the Drake Bulldogs golf team, leading the team to three NCAA regional meets and two Missouri Valley championships.