Date: July 16, 2015
Author: Bruce Matthews, St Andrews

Baker-Finch: Scotty deserves this

Adam Scott deserves to stroll the Open fairways as a past champion, just like the 28 past winners who honoured Peter Thomson and the late Kel Nagle today.

That emphatic declaration came from one of those feted few, Ian Baker-Finch after the 1991 titleholder completed a unique four-holes challenge.

"No-one is ever owed anything in this game, but I think he's as close to being owed an Open as anyone,'' Baker-Finch said.

"I think this might be it because he deserves those special occasions and he's up for it.

"Like winning the first green jacket for Australia and winning an Open at St Andrews is something really special.''

Even the great man himself, Thomson will be a silent and dignified supporter of the Queenslander who has finished second, tied third and tied fifth at the past three Open championships.

"I've been wanting Adam Scott to win for several years now and he hasn't pulled it off yet, but I think he's the strongest player we've got. And it might be this year,'' Thomson said.

"He knows what to do. I wish he would settle on a putter and stick to it, he's experimenting now.

"There's no obstacle for him. He can win, really. He hits it as far as any of them and as accurately too.

"Australian golf is going well with or without Open champions, but it would help young people, I guess, to be more impressed.''

Thomson and Baker-Finch joined past champions that included Tom Watson, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods in the Champion Golfers' Challenge over four holes on the eve of the 144th Open championship first round.

Eight groups of four played St Andrews' first, second, 17th and 18 holes in which the best individual score on each hole hole counted for the team.

Thomson's team of Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Ben Curtis finished in a four-way tie with teams captained by Tony Jacklin, Tom Weiskopf and Palmer at three-under.

And so the focus shifts to the battle to be crowned a major winner.

"I think it's the major of all majors, the Open at St Andrews, and it would be great to see an Aussie win it, whether it be (Marc) Leishman or Jason (Day) or Adam,'' Baker-Finch said.

"Any of the guys could do it, but it would be good to see one again. I think that they're all prepared. There's 15 Aussies, any one of them could do well. I won one. Any one of those could win one, too.

"You always look at the highest-ranked, Adam Scott, Jason Day, but Marc Leishman, John Senden, Rod Pampling, they've all got the ability to do it.

"Matty Jones, nobody strikes it better than him, so I think it's patience, getting the right side of the draw. I think that's going to be a big part of this Open, Thursday, Friday weather.''

Bruce Matthews is a Herald Sun sports writer