Thursday, May 20, 2010

Descendant of Old Tom Morris says badly-behaved

Tiger Woods wouldn't deserve Open belt

By Martin Dempster
Tiger Woods has filed his entry for The Open Championship at St Andrews, virtually guaranteeing that the 150th anniversary of the event will be a commercial success.
But the world No 1 won't be welcomed with open arms by everyone as he tries to win at the Old Course for the third time in a row – injured neck permitting.
The great, great grandson of four-time Open winner and golfing pioneer Old Tom Morris says
the R&A should withhold the presentation of a historic belt if Woods wins in Fife but has behaved badly on the course, having called on the game's governing body to start taking a stricter stance in a bid to clean up the sport.
Melvyn Morrow, a 60-year-old from Suffolk, has contacted Prestwick Golf Club about its plan to present a replica of the historic championship belt to this year's winner. The original was presented to Old Tom's son, Young Tom, after his third consecutive Open win in 1870. Young Tom died aged just 24, and the belt was given back to the R&A by the family in 1908 – the year Old Tom died. It has been on display at the R&A clubhouse in St Andrews ever since then.
Morrow supports the idea of marking the special anniversary of the game's oldest major in such a way, but he says he'd be saddened if it went to a player who behaves badly on the course, claiming there has been no worse offender in the modern game than Woods.
"I want Prestwick to present the belt," said Morrow. "However, I do not believe that past champions who held the original belt with great honour should have to accept that poorly behaved sportsmen will have a right to wear one, even a replica."
The belt was Old Tom's pride and joy and a great reminder of his son Young Tommy, who died well before his time and may have been the greatest golfer of all time, had he lived.
"In a letter to Prestwick, Morrow requested their support for his stance that the belt should not be given to anyone who does not behave appropriately on the golf course, in particular, Woods. The world No 1 promised earlier this year to improve his conduct on the course, but was heard cursing loudly during the Masters.
"It's not about his ladies or private problem; it's his course conduct that I am totally against," added Morrow. "It's his language and course etiquette. Such language is bad enough for a pro, but to throw his clubs when spectators are close by is not acceptable.
"It is not necessarily just Tiger Woods, but he is probably the worst offender when it comes to throwing clubs. When he threw a club over the top of the gallery at the Australian Masters last November, it was one of the worst offences I had ever seen. If the club had been two feet lower it would have done serious damage to someone yet no one did anything.
"I want assurance that course etiquette will be upheld. It's not just Tiger; it applies to all players throwing clubs, which is just bloody dangerous – and what a message to send out to kids. If Tiger and other golfers behave like professional golfers on the course then they deserve their trophies. But throwing clubs is, in my book, just not acceptable and goes to the heart of golf and course etiquette, or should I say the decline of the modern game.
"The poor standards we seem to be faced with today annoys me and no one seems to be doing a thing to clean it up."
A replica of the red Morocco belt has only been presented once before, in 1985, when Sandy Lyle won at Royal St George's on the 125th anniversary of the event.
"Prestwick have made it clear they are going to proceed no matter what," said Morrow. "I'm not going to launch a legal challenge but it is a dreadful shame that the club could not ask the R&A to deal a bit more severely with these sorts of things than they have in the past. It would be a shame if the belt went to any Tom, Dick or Harry."
Ian Bunch, the secretary of Prestwick, said the club could have no control over who received the replica belt and insisted neither it nor the R&A needed permission to make such a presentation.
"All we are doing is marking the 150th Open Championship, as we did the 125th one," he said. "We may sympathise with Mr Morrow's views regarding etiquette, but the Open Championship at St Andrews is going to be under the scrutiny of the world's press and I am sure the event will produce a worthy winner.
"His main concern is if it is won by Tiger Woods, he does not want that. He also claims we have no right to replicate the belt but we still have the original drawings. The belt was gifted unconditionally to the R&A by the Morris family in 1908. We have had lots of correspondence with Mr Morrow and we are working fully with the R&A on this matter."

THE achievements of Old Tom Morris and his son, Young Tom, made them the most famous family in golf's history.
Old Tom was born in St Andrews and worked as a greenkeeper, clubmaker, ballmaker, golf instructor, and course designer. He came second in the first Open in 1860 and won the following year. He followed this up with further victories – in 1862, 1864 and 1867 – and still holds the record as the oldest winner of The Open at 46.
He died at the age of 86 after falling down a flight of stairs in the clubhouse of the New Golf Club in St Andrews.
Young Tom became the youngest Open champion when he won in 1868 at the age of 17 – a record which also still stands – and went on to claim four consecutive titles before he died at the age of 25.



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