ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Although he struggled Monday in the cool rain and wind, Ben Martin still relishes his experience in the spectacular Open Championship at the home of golf, the iconic Old Course at St. Andrews.
In addition, the former Clemson University golfer and Greenwood native worked hard to bounce back from recent disappointments, including last month’s U.S. Open when he shot 86 in the third round to tumble out of contention.
After that experience at Chambers Bay in Washington, Martin and caddy Alex Boyd needed to decompress and relax. Easier said than done, especially in the midst of the national open. But they found a way.
“It’s amazing what a sweet tea will do for you,” Boyd said. “After that rough day, we had to get some Chick-fil-A and eat out our sorrows.”
This week at the tournament commonly known as the British Open, Martin got into a funk with the putter early until he made a slight adjustment with his setup and turned things around during Friday’s second round.
“I knew if I started making some putts that the day would turn around,” Martin said. “I found a little something on the sixth hole of the second round. I finally got the ball rolling like I really wanted it to.”
All that was needed was a different placement of his shoulders.
“My arms and shoulders were a little open,” Martin said. “I just squared it up and I got the ball rolling a little better. I think golf is just weird like that.”
Martin finished the week at the Open Championship tied for 74th. He shot 5-over 77 during the final round and dropped 41 spots from where he began the day. His frustration was obvious as he walked off the course for the final time in 2015.
“I didn’t do too good a job of playing into the wind,” Martin said. “I need to learn from it and do better for next time.”
On the brighter side, Martin played a 32-hole stretch from the time he discovered his putting flaw early in round two until the end of the third round Sunday when he shot his best score of the event — 67.
“It doesn’t matter whether I’m in last place or first place, I’m always trying to play my best golf,” Martin said. “That’s what I tried to do there.”
Boyd said he likes how his player responded with that run.
“Sometimes once your back is against the corner you end up fighting a little harder,” Boyd said.
Joining Martin and Boyd at St. Andrews was Martin’s mother, Suzie Martin, walking outside the ropes.
“Just watching Ben out there, I enjoy it so much,” she said. “I’ve done this since my boys were little. It’s my favorite thing to do. Watch golf. Then I eat lunch with Ben and Alex and then they do their own thing, then I do mine.”
This week included a visit to the old landmarks of St. Andrews, including the cathedral, castle, tower, and path along the coast.
Boyd and Martin’s off-course enjoyment included fiercely competitive games of gin rummy after their rounds.
Boyd was fortunate to grab some beginner’s luck Saturday, but by Sunday Martin had had enough of letting the new guy win.
“I got a little practice in,” Martin said, smiling, “and got my game going.”