Podcast – 150th Open special: Bairstow and Brown head for St Andrews

Sam Bairstow is a veteran of the Old Course while Barclay Brown is something of a rookie.

Yet while they have different levels of knowledge on St Andrews, the England men’s squad players share the same goal this week – success in the 150th Open Championship.

The two Yorkshiremen battled through final qualifying to earn the right to play alongside the legends of the game on the most famous golf course in the world.

Both golfers headline episode 20 of the England Golf podcast – a 150th Open Championship special.

They also go head-to-head in a special Open quiz!

The podcast also features interview with BIGGA’s Jim Croxton who gives us the inside track on the role more than 50 greenkeepers from England will play at this year’s Open.

Mike Woodcock, The R&A’s director of corporate communications, also welcomes us into the media centre at St Andrews to reveal the behind-the-scenes secrets of how the news from The Open is broadcast to a global audience.

For Bairstow and Brown, the chance to play at this Open is a dream come true.

Bairstow played last year at Royal St George’s and is excited at what lies ahead this week.

He said: “I think the 150th will be special especially given the number of people who are expected to be there.

“Losing out on the Amateur (final) and missing the Open was the one that hurt the most – it was co close and yet wasn’t.

“It was a week later and after a tough few days, I decided to work hard and qualify at St Anne’s Old which I did.”

When asked about what he can take from last year’s Open, Bairstow added: “The nerves of last year – that was my first time playing in front of large crowds. There was always people watching.

“The Amateur had 2000 people in the final and the nerves will be less at St Andrews  even though there will be a hosel staring at me on the first tee!

“I’ll treat it more as a golf tournament than an experience.

“I had to shout fore on the first last year – that was good! I holed a good putt for bogey in the end – that got the momentum starting!

“If I have to shout fore at St Andrews I’ll be in a lot of trouble!

“It’s easier than St George’s and I hope there will be birdie chances.

“I have a good record on the Old Course at St Andrews Links rather than the Jubilee – I’ll try and dig that up when using the range!

“I don’t have expectations – I’ll try and keep my form up and not let nerves get better of me.”

Brown said: “I’m very excited- it should be special.

“It’s been reasonably hectic since I qualified – I tried to get as much sorted in the first few days and wanted to have a clear mind.

“I got the accommodation sorted and dished tickets out to friends and family who I wanted there with me.

“Not too many of my ‘new’ friends that have emerged are coming along!”

Brown will hook up with a famous member of his golf club, Hallamshire, at St Andrews; US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick.

“Matt texted me after I finished qualifying about playing a practice round,” revealed Brown.

“So I definitely said thanks very much and hopefully I can do that.

“Watching him over the past six or seven years get better and better has been great to see. Everyone at our club knows how hard he works and how much he deserves it.”

Last year Brown, an economics student at Stanford University in California, played for GB&I at the Walker Cup held at Seminole in Florida.

And he hopes that helps him this week.

“I’ve heard that St Andrews shares something with Seminole in that you can spray it a little bit – that’s something I’m looking forward to!” he joked.

“With nerves, that might help ease them!

“I was looking forward to a tour event where the ground was trodden down by crowds – but the crowds at St Andrews are all out of bounds so I won’t have that.

“I played St Andrews when I was 9 or 10 so I’m not as experienced as Sam.

“Hopefully it will bring good things for me.

“At the moment it’s exciting. The Walker Cup was during extreme Covid times so there was about 1000 fans there – I’ve had some fans out for the Hallamshire scratch match!

“But playing this Open with 249,000 fans over a week will be exciting.”