Jack Newton has challenged Australia’s golf aces to honour the late and great Peter Thomson with a drought-breaking Open Championship triumph.
The season’s third major gets under way at Carnoustie on Thursday, almost one month after Thomson died aged 89. As a show of respect, R&A officials have marked a tribute to the five-time champion on the grandstands surrounding the 18th green.
No Aussie has ever come closer to saluting at Carnoustie than Newton, who lost a playoff to six-time winner Tom Watson on the Scottish links course in 1975. Newton believes big guns Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Adam Scott can all contend for golf’s oldest trophy and hopes the trio use the memory of Thomson for inspiration.
“In honour of Peter, you’d think it would probably be appropriate,’ Newton told AAP.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of people who will reminisce over Peter Thomson at Carnoustie and it would be lovely to see one of our blokes get up. There’s a few guys who I think will play well there. It’s a difficult golf course, but no tricks to it.”
A two-time winner on the PGA Tour in 2018, Day again enters the Open as Australia’s top-ranked player.
But Newton wants the world No.9 to tone down the hype after missing the cut at last month’s U.S. Open after talking up his chances pre-tournament.
“He’s got the game to win anywhere. When he’s on, he’s brilliant,” Newton said. “But he’s putting too much pressure on himself before he even hits a ball.
“I don’t think he can go into a press conference and blurt out that ‘I think I can win this’. If he just goes there and keeps a lid on it and goes about it, that will be a far better proposition than saying ‘I’m going to win this’. That’s a bit of an old fairytale.
“But it’s the sort of golf course that will suit him if he drives it well.”
Leishman has three top-six finishes in the past four years and Newton reckons “right now he’s probably in as good as form as any of the Aussies”.
Down to No.82 in the world, Scott has turned to Nick Faldo‘s former caddy Fanny Sunesson to help navigate his way around this year.
“I don’t think he’s finished, but he’s got two young kids now. That will take up a bit of his time,” Newton said.
“He’s always had a great golf swing but you’ve got to keep it refined and he’s gone back to the long putter, so there’s a couple of fairly significant changes there.
“But, look, when he gets going, the way he drives the ball etc, he should be able to perform at Carnoustie.”