More so than any of the four majors, the Open Championship is your best chance to see an older player perform well or even win.
Look no further than five-time Open Champion Tom Watson, who -- at age 59 -- lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink in 2009 at Turnberry.
You can also look at the 2011-2013 Open Championships, won by Darren Clarke (45 at the time), Ernie Els (44) and Phil Mickelson (44), respectively. Then there was Mark O'Meara who won at age 41 in 1998 at Royal Birkdale.
Oddly, while the Open is most susceptible to an older player performing well, its champion's average age of 31 is the youngest out of the four majors.
The oldest winner of the Open Championship is Old Tom Morris. He was was 46 years and 102 days old when he won in 1867 at Prestwick. His son, Tom Morris, Jr., is the youngest winner of the championship. He was 17 years and 156 days old when he won the very next year (also at Prestwick).
So, why is it, we wondered, that older (not "old") players seem to shine at the Open?
Here are five reasons...
5. Familiarity with the courses. Unlike the younger players in the field, older players have usually had multiple turns at the courses in the Open rota. Given the subtleties of links courses -- and the venues themselves -- this can be a big advantage. Sure, there's a difference between knowing what you want your ball to do and getting your ball what to do what you want it to, but if an older player has both those things figured out like Watson did in 2009, look out.
4. They embrace the conditions. It's not all sunshine and double rainbows at an Open Championship. There's a good chance that over the course of four days, you're going to get caught up in some miserable weather. Shoot, the motto on that side of the pond is, "Nae wind, nae rain, it's nae golf." Older players get that. They're not going to complain about things like "water on the clubface" (like a certain top golfer did at a major in the last couple of years), wind, cold, or whatever else. They're going to suck it up and grind, realizing it's the same for everyone else as it is for them. An Open Championship is a battle of attrition. It is what it is. Deal with it. Get through it. Make the best of it. Never pack it in because anything can happen in links golf.
3. You don't have to be a bomber. That's not to say that guys like Clarke, Els and Mickelson don't hit the ball a long way. They do. But Watson and O'Meara aren't noted bombers. Open Championship courses might not be shorter yardage-wise on the scorecard than stateside major venues, but they play a heck of a lot shorter when you factor in the conditions and the style of game required to succeed -- low, running shots, as opposed to soaring high shots that land like a feather. Because of the equipment older players learned to play the game with, they're arguably more creative than younger generations. It's not bomb and gouge. It's about manufacturing shots and seeing shapes others don't.
2. Slower greens. There's just no way around this. The greens at an Open Championship are slower than the other three majors and that's just a fact. Are they slow? Not by any means. But they are slower. When you can be a little more aggressive with a putt and not have to worry about running it 10 feet past the hole, chances are you're going to shoot lower scores. For the older guys, the slower greens can be a great equalizer in links golf.
1. Older players know when to take their medicine. This could be the biggest reason you see older players perform well at the Open Championship. Deep, gnarly fescue. Gorse bushes. Pot bunkers. An older, wiser player isn't going to attempt a "hero shot" if the moment doesn't call for it. Instead, they're going to take their medicine, get back in play and in position for the next shot. You might think it's as simple as fundamental course management, but it's not. Need we remind you of Jean Van de Velde's 72nd hole at Carnoustie in 1999?