The harsh reality is we will have forgotten them a year from now but the role of the supporting cast should not be overlooked at the game’s most important tournaments.
Four days is a long time for a competition to unfold and if the focus is narrowed only to the name players or those at the top of the leaderboard, it would make for a dull spectacle indeed.
At St. George’s this past week we were treated to a fine selection of secondary characters, from wild haired course superintendent Paul Larsen to the unfeasibly tall Jonathan ‘Jigger’ Thomson.
In between we were reacquainted with one of the more demonstrative players in the game, Marcel Siem, and the unorthodox though extremely effective swing of South Africa’s Daniel Van Tonder.
"At St. George’s this past week we were treated to a fine selection of secondary characters, from wild haired course superintendent Paul Larsen to the unfeasibly tall Jonathan ‘Jigger’ Thomson." - Rod Morri.
Throw in qualifiers Sam Forgan (whose journey to St George’s unfolded on The Open’s YouTube Channel before a shot was struck) and local food delivery driver Nick Poppleton, and these are the stories that remind us of the democratic – and intensely competitive – nature of top level golf.
Siem was the most enduring story of the week (Collin Morikawa’s surgical victory aside) as it was not only one of redemption but because he revelled so obviously in its unfolding.
A former European Tour player whose career had seemingly taken a terminal turn for the worse, he was a last minute inclusion courtesy of an unexpected victory on the secondary Challenge Tour.
That the German – a four time winner on the main European Tour – was languishing on the secondary Tour at all was indication of where his game had fallen to.
That he eventually finished T15 was less important than the childlike joy he took from the accomplishment and it would be no surprise if this proved a springboard back to the top levels of the game.
At 6 feet 9 inches tall Thomson is a story wherever he goes but his ace late Friday at St. George’s 16th hole went viral.
Not only is Thomson officially the tallest player ever to tee up on the European Tour, he is a survivor of childhood cancer who has endeared himself to fans and fellow players alike in his five years as a professional.
While he will return to the Challenge Tour for the rest of the 2021 season, his charm, grace and hole-in-one undoubtedly played their part in the success of the 149th Open, as did all in the field.
It is only right that Morikawa take the bulk of the spotlight for his fine play this week and especially on Sunday. He has earned every accolade coming his way.
And we will likely also remember the final day heroics of Jon Rahm, Brooke Koepka and Jordan Spieth in what was an intriguing clash of contrasting styles.
But without a supporting cast the stars of the game – like actors in a movie – shine much less brightly.