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The legend of "Old Tom"

In one of those peculiar instances of unintended synchronicity the legend of Old Tom Morris resurfaced in one of the least likely places last month when The Open was being played at Muirfield in Scotland. It was the one hundred and thirty-first playing of golf's premier championship.

The 2002 championship will be remembered in golfing annals for many and many a year, and for many and many a reason. At the end of four rounds four players were tied, forcing a four hole playoff. The four included two Australians, a Frenchman, and a South African. The Australians were eliminated at the end of the four holes, leaving the Frenchman and the South African to contest a fifth and final hole, won by the latter. All hail to Ernie Els!

Throughout the four full days of television coverage viewers were treated to a remarkable cultural divide. The BBC commentators and crew let the spectacle speak for itself. The American coverage was overladen with non-stop babble.

Remarkably one name was regularly mentioned each day by both networks, almost reverentially by the BBC and as an abiding historical fact by the American network. "Old Tom" Morris was that name, acclaimed as the foremost golfer and course architect of his day, whose skill was rivaled only by his son "Young Tom" Morris.

While interest centred on Muirfield, the legend of "Old Tom" surfaced once more in the seemingly most unlikely of places, a golfing resort in County Donegal.

The Rosapenna Hotel at the village of Downings has long been recognised by the golfing fraternity as hosting one of the finest links golf courses in Ireland. What is not so well recognised is that its original designer was "Old Tom" himself. It was opened officially on August 15, 1893, and since then refinements have been carried out by a succession of designers closely associated with the fabled Open.

Mr. Frank Casey, the proprietor of the Rosapenna Hotel, now plans to construct Ireland's largest private golf complex surrounding the course. Due to the hotel being fully booked for the season, the work is scheduled to begin in September.

The new complex, which, will cost more that two million Euro, is expected to be finished in June of 2003, coinciding with opening of a second 18 hole course at the hotel.

The view of Sheephaven Bay, which the old course overlooks, is featured on posters, postcards, and in tourism books. In addition to being a mecca for surfers, Donegal is fair set to becoming the chosen destination of golfers from all over the world.

The legend lives on. All hail to "Old Tom" and his abiding works.

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