Royal Lytham, the 141st Open Championship. July 16 2012

The gallery's around Royal Lytham are in anticipation of the 141st Open Championship, which starts in earnest on Thursday this week. The players have a lot of respect for the Old Claret Jug, revering its history, not even having a celebratory drink from it, no Champagne, nothing. The current holder of the Claret Jug is Darren Clarke, who is well-known as a man who partakes of a tipple or two. Darren has too much respect for the trophy to even think about sipping a drink from it. Darren said after handing the Claret Jug back to the R&A  on Monday morning; “I didn’t at any stage put any fluid in it. It is just too special a trophy. I have so much respect for the Open Championship, and I couldn’t get myself to do it. I was tempted on the Sunday evening and the Monday evening and Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening, and for about two weeks afterwards. But I never put anything into it.” Talking about this years tournament, Darren has said the 206 bunkers on the course will really get everyone's  full attention; “It’s just a nightmare, they are very penal. There’s going to be occasions here this week where I think you’re going to see guys taking penalty drops out of them because they won’t be able to move their ball anywhere. Accuracy is going to be the key this week. It’s not really length off the tee, it’s keeping it on the fairways and keeping out of those bunkers.” Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke hands back the Claret Jug to Peter Dawson, CEO of the R&A. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

In 1969 The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes was won by a nervous Tony Jacklin, he was the first Brit to win the old Claret Jug since the legendary Max Faulkner in 1951. At his presentation ceremony Tony turned to Jack Nicklaus and said;

" I didn’t think I could be so nervous and play. And he said: ‘I know, isn’t it great?’  I’d never been that nervous before.”

Talking of nervous people, Bubba Watson is having some trouble concentrating on this tournament, it is the first time he has been out of the U.S. away from his wife and new-born son. Bubba said on Monday;

 “No matter if I’ve won the Masters or not, I have a lot going on in my mind, I've got issues. It’s only Monday right now so I’m real calm. There are a lot of things running through my head. This is a week that my wife is not here, my new son is not here, so the first time out of the country away from them. My head is always racing about something. I've got to calm my mind down and focus on golf and try to get better. When I focus right, I play pretty good, and when I don’t focus right, I miss the cut pretty quick.” Just to really focus the players minds, apart from the 206 bunkers, the rough is deep and lush because of the unusually wet spring England has experienced.  Royal Lytham club professional Eddie Birchenough attest's; “If you get in some parts of the rough then players won’t even be able to find their feet.”