For all of the drama Trevino and Mister Lu and Our Tony produced, Birkdale was not a links to get excited about, not in the way one gets stirred by St. Andrews, Muirfield (where next year's championship will be played), Carnoustie, Troon, Hoylake or Royal Lytham and St. Annes, the other courses in the British Open rotation.
First of all, Birkdale is normally a par-74 course, with six—yes, half-a-dozen—par-5 holes, including four of the last six. The Royal and Ancient changed one of the par 5s (the hated 6th) to a par 4 to reduce par to 73, but that is still abnormal by American standards. Or anybody else's.
Still, the Americans thought it was more like one of their own courses than any they play across the ocean, principally because the fairways are fairly fiat, as compared to the moguls and valleys and hidden flagsticks of a classic Scottish links. The lack of any real wind from the sea and the slow and bumpy greens made the tournament seem terribly un-British.
"I know I haven't really been to the British Open yet," said Masters Champion Charles Coody, who came over for the first time and did well, shooting a 283 for a fifth-place tie with defending champion Jack Nicklaus, who did not get going until the last day. Nicklaus didn't much like the course, either. Some pitch shots, he said, were "like aiming at a bag of dirty clothes."
Nicklaus missed birdies in the first round that might have drawn him very close to a repeat win, but you had to know that no one but Trevino was going to take this tournament. Now the champion announced that he had a new goal. "I've got the U.S., the British and the Canadian Opens," he said, "but, darn it, I've got to wait all the way until October to win my own Grand Slam." He smiled. "That's when the Mexican Open is."