Where can we look for the magic at Lytham St Annes this time around? The Lancashire venue will forever be most famously associated with two of the late Seve Ballesteros’s three Open triumphs, and moments do not get more magical than when the swashbuckling Spaniard was in his prime.
His first Lytham victory in 1979 was one of the most incredible Open performances of all time. The best-remembered shot was his second from the temporary car park at the 16th in the final round (he found the green and inevitably made birdie), but he was all over the place so often over the four days, prompting main rival, Hale Irwin, to wave a white handkerchief in surrender walking up the 18th.
His 1988 win was more conventional, but no less entertaining, as he went head to head with Nick Price on the final day (a Monday, after the Saturday had been washed out) and closed out a superb round with a quite wonderful chip to a few inches at the 72nd hole. Olé.
We seemed destined for another magical moment in 2001 – the last time the Open was held at Lytham – when Ian Woosnam went out for the last round tied with David Duval, and birdied the first hole. Woosnam was rolling back the years, a decade after his Masters triumph, but there was no magic, just heartbreak and fury as the Welshman was penalised two shots for having 15 clubs in his bag.
That was it for Woosnam – he never really recovered from the blow – but it was still a pleasure to see Duval land the tournament and, with an elegant and modest victory speech, show the world what a nice guy was behind those sunglasses.
Maybe McIlroy, or Woods, or somebody else, will conjure up some more Lytham magic, but there will never be another Seve. Check out the Bet365 videos for other great sporting stories.
The Ray Winstone Bet365 advert suggests that Woods and McIlroy will almost certainly rank highly at the Open Championship, next month.