Paul Broadhurst knows what it takes to win at Royal Liverpool. Ged Scott reports
Ask Paul Broadhurst about his chances of making the Ryder Cup team this September and it's like trying to prise open a giant clam.
Try talking to him instead about this week's return trip to a happy hunting ground to play the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and it's more a case of 'Pull up a chair lads, what do you want to know?'
Admittedly, when you're in the position Broadhurst (below) is in - eighth in the Ryder Cup rankings, and all too conscious of the younger talent looking to shift him from that automatic top ten - it's entirely understandable he adopts the Rod Stewart-like stance of not wanting to talk about it.
Yes, of course it would be a fantastic achievement if the Atherstone golfer made two Ryder Cup teams 15 years apart, matching Christy O'Connor Jnr's feat of making the team in 1975, and being recalled in 1989.
But, for now, Broadhurst's public attitude is one of 'If it happens, it happens'. And he is a lot keener to discuss his chances at Hoylake.
I t w a s way back in 1991 - the year Broad-hurst made the Ryder Cup team - that he made his last public appearance at Hoylake. It was a successful one, too, as
he won the European Pro Celebrity, only the second tournament win of his career. And, despite the distraction of having to play for the first two days with the help of two 'comics', Ronnie Corbett and Mike Reid, he has happy memories of it.
Especially as, although Roberto Di Vicenzo was the last Open winner there in 1967, and this week's fellow starters Ernie Els and Mikko Ilonen have since claimed amateur titles at Hoylake, Broadhurst's 1991 win makes him the last professional golfer to win there.
"It took over from the Four Stars event that used to be at Moor Park and it was the last year they played it, so I suppose that still makes me the champion," recalls Broad-hurst. "I was paired with Ronan Rafferty on the final day, shot 66 and did the back nine in 30.
"I've still got the piece of glass I won somewhere in the house."
Judging by one or two of the sweaters he's worn on tour this year, he must also have inherited some fashion tips that week 15 years ago from Ronnie Corbett! But, as far as Royal Liverpool itself is concerned, Broadhurst remains a big fan.
"It's a course I like," he said. "I certainly enjoyed playing it in 1991 and I enjoyed going back there for a round a few weeks ago. I went up there on the Friday in the week I had off after Celtic Manor and I had my dad caddying for me.
"And, although they've altered the 17th, changed one other green and put a few new tees in, it played pretty much the same.
"I wasn't really scoring but I birdied the last three and I was reliably informed that Luke Donald shot 67 when he had a go round there earlier that week.
"Four of them would certainly do this week. And, if the wind keeps down and it stays like this, I can see somebody shooting a low score.
"I know when I played it the par-fives were very vulnerable.
"It might even be so dry that it will be hard to get close to the flags and that might keep the birdies down. I know they were concerned a month ago that it was starting to burn off.
"But really they can make it as tough as they want to.
"I've not played that many Opens in recent years and the fairest was up at Troon, which was set up properly.
"But from what I saw on the telly Carnoustie and Sandwich were just ridiculous. It looked impossible just to find a fairway at Carnoustie, never mind hit one. It was the same at Sandwich, with everything bouncing off into the rough. But this week will be a fair test.
"There's a lot of bunkers and the key is keeping out of the traps."
As to whether Broadhurst, ninth in the European Order of Merit, really can win such a big event a month ahead of his 41st birthday, he emits a quiet confidence.
"I just want to be within four or five off the pace going into the last day," he added. "If you can do that you're still in the hunt, same as with any major.
"With the added pressure, scores can disappear just like that and the leaders can blow up as easy as winking.
"And although I don't want to put too much pressure on myself, I have to admit I'm hoping for a good week."