The Open 2021: Royal St George’s ready for magical unpredictability at the home of fairytales as Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and co. headline golf’s biggest event in months

While football continues its bumpy ride home, golf takes a equally turbulent journey back to England this week.

Travelling through rolling, undulating fairways with a coastal breeze in a town called Sandwich – it could only be The Open.

Royal St George’s is England’s oldest and most used Open venue

Not the British Open. We invented everything, don’t forget.

Here at Royal St George’s, there is sense of privilege and gratitude, staring at grandstands which will host 32,000 fans a day in the biggest golf event since sport returned last year.

Not even the Great British weather dares to deny four days of golf in its purest form, shining down on the world’s greatest players in Kent after they were forced to stay away last year.

Everyone, even the most seasoned golf broadcasters, takes a renewed feeling of awe round the famous Kent layout during the practice rounds.

There is an atmosphere building already here in the South East

That feeling of, ‘Wow, how did they do that?’ Okay, maybe that’s just me, overwhelmed with excitement to be working at my first ever golf event.

Our listeners will have to excuse the boyish enthusiasm this week because Rupert Bell and Russell Hargreaves have a kid at Disneyland alongside them doing the updates for talkSPORT.

Strolling around today, getting the undivided attention of Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy for a few moments, it’ll make you fall in love with sport all over again.

But even US Open champion and world number two, Rahm, gets like that about The Open.

There is no future in the rough this week

Chatting to him earlier, he told talkSPORT: “I’m very excited. We’ve missed it.

“Especially on a course with such history as this one. It’s known to be a difficult links golf course, so I’m hoping it plays like that – and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s always a week I cherish and look forward to. This was my first-ever links golf experience, so there’s a little bit of nostalgia in there as well.”

Your first? That’s just about the only thing we have in common.

Watch out for those pot bunkers

But enough about me, let’s get into that historical, difficult challenge the big Spaniard mentioned.

Walking about, it feels impossible that Greg Norman shot 63 round this place to win in 1993, that’s surely the greatest round of golf by anyone ever.

Head down the first and you might find Tiger Woods’ golf ball from his opening tee shot in 2003, never found in that thick, juicy rough en route to a triple bogey.

Get to the fourth and you’ll discover the deepest bunker in championship golf, suitably named ‘Himalaya’, reigning as king over all of St George’s many potted traps.

Even Tiger was tamed by the rough at St George’s

Practising on the driving range is totally pointless, with no flat lie on The Open roster’s most uneven course.

Arrive at 16 and you’ll see exactly where Thomas Bjorn’s tournament fell apart in a greenside bunker 18 years ago, taking three shots to escape before losing to 500/1 outsider Ben Curtis, who had never even played in England before that week.

It’s a land of fairytales for the golfers too, you know.

Just ask Darren Clarke, who broke his major duck aged 42 and ranked 111th in the world, last time it was here in 2011.

Bjorn has a bunker named after his struggles in 2003

St George’s, a cauldron of unpredictability, makes fools of tipsters and tames the dragons of golf, elevating unlikely underdogs into household heroes.

Rupert reckons it’ll be Jordan Spieth, Russell has a feeling about Paul Casey, and I think it could be Xander Schauffele’s year – which means the stage is set for a name you’ve never heard to emerge victorious.

Any potential winner must somehow find the calm among this golf course’s beautifully-crafted chaos.

That’s proving difficult for us mere mortals here and it’s only Tuesday.

Set your alarms for 6.35am on Thursday and get talkSPORT 2 on. You won’t regret it.

You can listen to the 149th Open live on talkSPORT 2 with regular updates on talkSPORT, from Thursday to Sunday this week