Jordan Spieth reluctantly returns the Claret Jug

© GettyJordan Spieth rpepares to relinquish the Caret Jug back into the care of Martin Slumbers at Carnoustie yesterday.
Jordan Spieth rpepares to relinquish the Caret Jug back into the care of Martin Slumbers at Carnoustie yesterday.

Being 158 years old and this being the 147th version, it’s naturally assumed by some that everything done at the Open Championship is dripping in tradition. But not everything.

Jordan Spieth was quite taken with the pomp and circumstance on the first tee when he arrived at Carnoustie yesterday to – very reluctantly – hand the Claret Jug back to the R&A’s chief executive, Martin Slumbers.

“The traditions of the Open are very special, even though I was on the wrong end of this one,” he said. “I thought maybe someone would meet me in the parking lot and I’d just give them the case back.”

He was correct to think that, because that’s exactly how it happened up until a couple of years ago, when some smart PR whiz within the R&A thought they’d make an occasion out of the return of the Jug. It’s about as traditional as Instagram.

But social media and TV stunts are part of the deal now. Only the Claret Jug, still venerable and with every name of every winner inscribed over every available inch of its shiny visage, is really the same as it’s always been.

“The coolest trophy our sport has to offer,” said Spieth. “And it was in my possession. I took it to all the places that allowed me to get where I am today, my family was able to take it around, my team were able to show it.

“Hopefully it’s only out of my possessions for a week.”

He and caddie Michael Geller haven’t quite decided on their strategy yet, but the odds seem to be on “wearing out four and five irons” off the tee.

“The firmest conditions I can remember were Muirfield in 2013,” he said. “The weather was perfect and the course baked out, but there wasn’t much wind.

“If we get a wind with these firm conditions, that would be a treat. And hopefully everyone’s going to get an even draw.”

Meanwhile the champion golfer before Jordan is just wondering whether he can get to the first tee on Thursday (12.31 pm, if you’re interested).

Henrik Stenson missed the Scottish Open with an elbow problem and it’s still not 100 per cent, he admitted,

“If this had been a regular Tour event, I would certainly have debated whether to play,” he said. “I played 18 in Sweden on Saturday and, yesterday morning just before we flew over here, my arm was stiff.

“But, given what week this is, I certainly want to be here and play. If I felt there was any risk of further injury or making it worse, I wouldn’t take any chances.”

He hasn’t gone back to Troon for a little inspiration.

“I don’t need that. For me, just showing up at the Open Championship is enough to give you that little extra tickle,” he said.

“It’s almost like it has a certain smell, the grandstands and the air, being back on the links; that’s enough to jump start the good memories and the nice feeling.

“Just being back in Scotland playing links, at Carnoustie, in The Open, all those things together are enough to get me inspired.”

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