Edinburgh man Ewen Murray is making his second Open Championship debut at Royal Troon this week – four decades after he first played in the event as an 18-year-old.
Having since swapped his golf clubs for a microphone, Murray is set for arguably the biggest challenge of his broadcasting career in the event’s 145th staging on the Ayrshire course.
That’s because, as the main Sky Sports golf commentator, he’ll effectively be taking on the Peter Alliss role as the satellite channel replaces the BBC as the event’s host broadcaster.
“I was 10 the first time I met Peter in 1964 during Tony Lema’s win at St Andrews in The Open,” recalled Murray of the man widely regarded as the ‘Voice of Golf’. “I’ve played in a lot of the charity days he’s hosted during his life. He’s a great man and a great companion. I have enormous respect for him, no doubt.”
Alliss was still five years away from replacing Henry Longhurst as the BBC’s lead commentator when Baberton man Murray – his father Jimmy was the pro at the Juniper Green club – made his debut in the world’s oldest major.
“I remember it very well,” he said of the 1973 event at Royal Troon, where the tournament returns this week for the first time since Todd Hamilton sprang a surprise 12 years ago.
“I remember having a terrible back nine in the first round, when it was very windy. I took 44 for the back nine, having been out in 35. I was a bit better after that, carding scores of 71-73-71.”
He finished joint-31st alongside five-time Open champion Peter Thomson in an event that saw American Tom Weiskopf claim the Claret Jug. “I remember Weiskopf winning and there is nothing that matches the excitement of playing in The Open,” added Murray, who turned to broadcasting after his tournament career came to an early end at the age of 35 due to putting woes. “It is the oldest and best tournament and I am looking forward to it as much this year as I was back in 1973.”
Sky Sports have assembled a cast of thousands at Troon, where Murray will be in the commentary box from the off when the event’s opening shot – to be hit by host club member Colin Montgomerie – is televised live for the first time at 6.30am on Thursday.
“I give every tournament the same attention, whether it is the Madeira Islands Open or the US Open or The Open – each week is the same for me,” insisted the 61-year-old, who won the Scottish Boys, Scottish Boys Stroke Play and World Junior Championships, all in 1971
“However, given that the first Open I played in at the age of 18 was at Royal Troon, it will be nice to be going be there in my current role.
“It will also be nice to see the difference in the coverage and it will be different. The BBC had their own style and that worked for a long time. We have our style.
“Sky will take coverage of The Open to another level. They will be on before the first ball is hit and it will be 100 per cent Open Championship coverage.
“It will be tremendously different from what it has been. It will be more in-depth and we have great digital platforms, too. There are so many different ways you can watch golf on Sky. Hopefully an awful lot more youngsters will be excited by this switch as they have grown up watching golf on Sky.
“They know what to expect from us and that is good. I think most people will be pleasantly surprised, I really do.”
• Sky Sports will show The Open exclusively live for the first time from 14-17 July.